MOST of the time, with just a few exceptions, Presidential spokesperson George Charamba, who doubles as permanent secretary for the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, talks sense, be it on media issues or other issues.
Candid Comment Faith Zaba firstname.lastname@example.org
But of late, Charamba has been getting himself into trouble unnecessarily, latching from one controversy to another. Only recently, he was in the eye of the storm over the ZiFM interview, during which he overstepped his mandate and acted like a political factional player rather than a civil servant employed to talk on behalf of President Robert Mugabe and also account for his ministry as permanent secretary.
Just this week, Charamba went on a tirade against the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), saying it should not behave like a “rattlesnake”.
Charamba’s language was both intimidating and threatening, yet his arguments were spurious. This is unlike Charamba, who is normally savvy and discerning.
The presidential spokesperson should not try to disrupt investigations into corrupt activities. It is not his call to say Zacc should first investigate cases and not act on insufficient information. It is also not his call to say Zacc is impugning government systems and circumventing ministries in its investigations.
Why was Charamba speaking like an aggrieved person? Could he be afraid of something we do not know, afraid Zacc investigators will end up asking about the looting at the Premier Service Medical Aid Society (Psmas)? Charamba got over US$228 278 between 2009 and 2013 in board fees and allowances, which was part of a total US$2 438 000 spent on the Psmas board of directors’ remuneration. Is it ZBC scandals?
If Charamba had no skeletons in his cupboard, Zimbabweans would have tried to listen to him. Unfortunately, his argument coming from someone who was previously accused of unduly benefitting from public funds dilutes the message. It simply casts him as someone who is trying to cow the anti-corruption body to cover his back and also scare away any possible probe into abuse of public funds or corruption.
Charamba might have been well meaning, but it is difficult to believe him given the context of what is currently happening.
The Office of the President and Cabinet is unfortunately entangled in corruption scandals. Recently, it authorised the controversial Dema Diesel Power Plant project in which Mugabe’s in-law Derrick Chikore is partnering Kuda Tagwirei of Sakunda Holdings in the murky project, which is set to trigger an increase in electricity tariffs.
Besides, he is still to clear himself in the Psmas scandal. This makes it very difficult for anyone to listen to him, let alone believe his sincerity.
The fact is that Zacc is established as an independent body in terms of Section 254 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and should work without interference.
Charamba should stick to his job and let others do their jobs. His job is to defend the president, not to defend corruption.