DAYS after President Robert Mugabe embarrassingly read the wrong speech during the official opening of parliament in September, a war of words through popular social media application Whatsapp exploded between War Veterans minister Chris Mutsvangwa and Presidential spokesperson George Charamba.
Mugabe in September re-read a speech which he had delivered in his state of the nation address in August, with Charamba explaining the humiliating fiasco as a mix-up in the president’s office secretariat. However, this triggered a fierce slanging match — a prolonged exchange of insults — between Mutsvangwa and Charamba via Whatsapp.
Mutsvangwa yesterday confirmed the clash, although Charamba refused to comment.
Throughout the acrimonious invectives, Charamba accused Mutsvangwa of being ignorant of how the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) works, intellectually-challenged and having an inferiority complex.
Mutsvangwa returned fire, attacking Charamba while describing him as a parasite on the state feeding trough with no discernible liberation war credentials as he was merely a mujibha (war collaborator) and “cattle herd boy”.
“Sir, I thought you knew who does what in the OPC,” wrote Charamba. “Apparently you don’t, except to let blind anger lead your better judgment and pose as the only flawless one. Do better next time Sir.”
This angered Mutsvangwa who furiously shot back: “No one has any business embarrassing our political icons and the state we created. No brooking to whatever incompetence for whichever reason or excuse.”
Charamba responded by lashing out at Mutsvangwa: “Get back your youthfulness you super war veteran, the Rambo who won the war single handedly. You have a horrible complex. An acute deficiency that overpasses your meagre personality.
“… For far too long we have allowed you to hide behind the parapet of struggle as if you are the only fighter in town. We will pluck those feathery horns if you take matters too far.”
Mutsvangwa hit back saying he respected war veterans, not those “ensconced in the material comfort of a state we created”.
Charamba would not be outdone, accusing Mutsvangwa of going about extorting “genuflection from the whole society” which he said was being held hostage by the minister’s revisionist history.
“What do you know about the workings of the OPC,” Charamba fumed. “I am not like you who knows no boundary. I keep my sphere of work, and not pretend to be a self-appointed prime minister. You hoped to be the minister of information. Which is why you were dishing out orders to me as if I answer to you? Go hang on a banana tree.”
“I get judged by qualified civil servants not pseudo super performers. What have you done for war veterans since (the late war veterans leader Chenjerai) Hunzvi? A minister who behaves like a trade unionist!”
Charamba also ridiculed Mutsvangwa for having nothing to show since his ministerial appointment except empty noise. “Does a genuine tiger proclaim its tigritude?” he asked.
But Mutsvangwa would not let up saying: “Those who feed in the trough of the material opulence born by our blood, sweat and tears. On what pedestal does your pumped up arrogance stand; a presidential sinecure of a state created by others. Even after war survival, I have spent half of my life on my means, not state handouts.”
Mutsvangwa denied ever having ambitions to be Information minister, saying if offered he would have turned it down the same way he did an ambassadorial position in Germany after his posting to China.
Mutsvangwa also accused Charamba of rumour-mongering and being a “gossiper” on a global scale after he called him an “out and out coward” and a “pitiable creature quite unfit to be where you are” as minister.
Charamba threatened to expose Mutsvangwa over his dirty activities in China. But Mutsvangwa said he was removed from China because of “gamatox” (referring to former vice-president Joice Mujuru’s faction).
The two also challenged each other’s academic qualifications in egotistic ways.
Mutsvangwa said: “Publish your embellished cryptic CV peer to peer with mine and test proper judgment.”
To which Charamba reacted: “Are you piqued by my educational achievement? Are you aware two of my degrees are attained after independence, two well after independence through self-paid distance education when you were messing up things at ZBC, another when you were pretending to be busy in China.”
Charamba accused Mutsvangwa of “hobnobbing with the Americans and Europeans” and asked him why he was not on the sanctions list.
“Americans and Europeans belong to this earth to the global community,” Mutsvangwa replied.
“… They gave you the GSM switch you are using for your sms and the internet backbone you use/abuse …”
Then Charamba said: “I don’t buy my membership to Zanu PF. You don’t hold the book to membership to the club, you are a puny creature of low intellect.”
Contacted for comment yesterday, Charamba did not allow this reporter to ask any questions, saying: “I don’t do last minute paragraphs. I don’t want to comment on something that you want on your last day of publication.”
Mutsvangwa said the polemical exchanges came after a strategic seminar of war veterans in Kariba around the time when Mugabe delivered a wrong speech in parliament.
The minister said “sloppiness” around Mugabe by the likes of Charamba should not be tolerated and appeared to attack the Mujuru faction when he blasted an “extended family oligarchy from Mash(onaland) Central planning a fascist putsch straight out of Hilterite Germany”.
“Disconcerting dissonance!” he said. “They wallow in the opulence of a corrupt and amoral proximity to power. By the same token they despise the warts of pain, hunger and sufferance, a long signpost of the tortured ascendancy of the guerrilla leader, Mugabe, to power and global statesman … a reckless infantile attempt at plain robbery of the soul, tradition and substance of the Zimbabwe revolution.”