Tsholotsho ghost haunts Charamba

Dumisani Muleya

PRESIDENTIAL spokesman George Charamba yesterday refused to discuss his role in the explosive ruling Zanu PF power struggle publicised by the dramatic Tsholotsho episode.

Charamba has reportedly been under pressure over the issue which stil

l provokes fury in President Robert Mugabe.
 
Yesterday he angrily refused to discuss the issue — which has claimed high-profile political casualties — despite his former immediate boss Jonathan Moyo’s confirmation that he was involved in attempts to manoeuvre Emmerson Mnangagwa to power ahead of Vice-President Joice Mujuru.

“I no longer talk to you and you must never phone me again,” Charamba said before hanging up. Efforts to contact him later failed. Later, he threatened through his lawyers to rope in the police and sue the Independent for $15 billion.

Moyo is on record as saying Charamba wrote the speech for Mnangagwa which was presented in Tsholotsho by former politburo member Patrick Chinamasa on November 18, 2004.
 
Mugabe last month lashed out at those involved in the Tsholotsho affair in a ZTV interview before making a further reference to it last week.

“Charamba wrote the speech for Mnangagwa. After that he gave it to Moyo on November 16, 2004 who then relayed it to Mnangagwa,” a source close to the episode said.

“The speech was then put on parliamentary stationery because Mnangagwa was invited to the Dinyane Secondary School ceremony in his capacity as Speaker of Parliament.”

It was said Charamba had met with Mnangagwa at parliament before that. He denied this yesterday.

Although initial reports said the meeting was organised through the auspices of Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma, he said this week he was not involved.

Zvoma said he was not part of the issue and had absolutely nothing to do with it.

As it transpired, Mnangagwa did not attend the function because of a politburo meeting in Harare. Chinamasa delivered his speech.

Mnangagwa had outmanoeuvred Mujuru, whose faction was led by her husband, former army commander, Retired General Solomon Mujuru, by securing the support of seven out of 10 provinces.
 
However, the situation changed when the politburo amended the ruling party’s constitution on the same day as the Tsholotsho meeting to say one of the two party second secretaries (vice-presidents) should be a woman.

But it was Mugabe who effectively knocked Mnangagwa out of the race on his arrival home from Zanzibar on November 19 when he directed the party to vote for Mujuru on November 21.

Sources said Charamba travelled with Mugabe to Matabeleland North province on November 22 for meetings during which he sensed danger.

“Charamba was present in a helicopter when (former Matabeleland North governor Obert) Mpofu briefed Mugabe on the issue during their tour of Matabeleland North,” a source said.

“Mpofu gave Mugabe a detailed account about Tsholotsho and Mugabe was very angry about it. Charamba phoned Moyo who was in Bulawayo to tell him things were extremely bad.”

Sources said Moyo left Bulawayo for Harare in a panicky mood. Mugabe was said to have shown his anger over the issue during a cabinet meeting on November 23 and a politburo meeting the following day.

“Mugabe was very angry during cabinet and politburo meetings that week,” a source said.

“Chinamasa came under fierce attack at the politburo but Moyo survived for the day because he had slipped out of the meeting. Chinamasa had to apologise during the meeting which ended around midnight.”

On December 1, 2004, sources said, the politburo convened again and it was Moyo’s turn for a grilling.
 
“The meeting boiled over and Mugabe, assisted by the Zanu PF old guard, led the assault against Moyo,” a source said. “I have never seen Moyo so subdued. He tried hard to fight back but he was cornered.

“Moyo made the situation worse by saying he didn’t know Zanu PF had unwritten rules and was opposed to internal democracy. Mugabe would not have any of that. He said to Moyo: ‘What do you mean? What are you trying to say?’”

Party heavyweights Joseph Msika, John Nkomo, Nathan Shamuyarira, and Gen Mujuru were said to have descended on Moyo heavily. Nkomo was said to have fired a volley of questions at Moyo, asking: “When did you join the party, what’s your cell, branch, district, where is your card?”

“Shamuyarira worsened matters by saying Moyo was a CIA agent and noted that the Tsholotsho meeting was a ‘well-calculated strategy by this dangerous young man (Moyo) to destroy the party’. Shamuyarira said: ‘It’s now clear Cde President this young man wants to destroy the party from within’,” the source related.

“Moyo reacted angrily to Shamuyarira’s remarks, especially his claims that he was a CIA agent. He hit back, saying ‘you speak like the Shamuyarira of Frolizi fame who was well-known for Tsikamutanda politics’.”