WASHINGTON DC — Zimbabwe’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, George Charamba, says President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s visit to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s Highlands home in Harare on Friday was not a publicity stunt.
In an interview with VOA Studio 7, Charamba said the courtesy call was part of Mnangagwa’s responsibility as a national figure to show his capacity to work across the political boundaries.
“Well, I think good politicians know when to wear the national colors and when to wear club colors, if I may use that metaphor. Today’s visit marked the president of Zimbabwe wearing national colors in order to relate to not just another national figure but also a person who is actually not well-disposed. It is an expression of compassion, an expression of responsibility which the president as a father figure of the nation is expected to show … That basically is significant. I know that the reflex of many people is to see to party political terms but I don’t think that’s the impulse that drove the new president to the meeting.
Charamba, who is also the presidential spokesperson, dismissed suggestions by some political analysts that the visit was a publicity stunt, saying there was nothing sinister about the new president’s meeting with the MDC-T leader as Tsvangirai attended Mnangagwa’s inauguration.
“It will be very fair to ask those same analysts why they didn’t level the same criticism to Mr. Tsvangirai when he came to attend the inauguration ceremony of the current president. Was it a publicity stunt? And if it is, well, then it’s a good turn that deserves another.”
Asked whether the two will continue engaging each other in the near future, Charamba said, “… The hallmark of the new era is capacity to build bridges and cross boundaries. If the mindset of the nation is fixated with boundaries which are drawn across political lines then the nation is in for a rude shock. We are likely to see a recognition that we are Zimbabweans first and foremost before we are Zanu PF, MDC or any other party.”