Home » Governance » Charamba – Mugabe Doesn’t Borrow, Not in Want

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe does “not borrow and, therefore, cannot owe”, his spokesman said at the weekend, dismissing as “unmitigated malice” reports the veteran leader owes a recently expelled Zanu PF official $30 million.

George Charamba was responding to the allegations in Malabo, capital of Equatorial Guinea, where Mugabe travelled for the weekend ahead of yet another trip to Sudan this week.

Although Charamba claimed Mugabe does not borrow and cannot, therefore, owe the president’s wife Grace last year revealed that the First Family owes local banks up to US$20 million used to finance their various business enterprises.

Probably remembering that, Charamba clarified that Mugabe does not take money from individuals.

“He (Mugabe) does not borrow from a private citizen and, therefore, cannot owe. If he has to borrow, he does it with the right institutions, namely banks,” said Charamba.

“It is, therefore, inconceivable for the President to be associated with such a transaction involving a private citizen.

“Whether in his private or official capacity, he doesn’t have such a relationship and anyone making such allegations is attacking the person of the President as well as the dignity of his Office.

“There is a way in which these allegations traduce the Office of the President and for me that can only come from a certain type of journalism I’ve termed ‘ill-will journalism’, which is really animated with unmitigated malice.”

The report by a local daily claiming Mugabe admitted owing expelled Zanu PF provincial chairman and tycoon Ray Kaukonde sparked a political storm in Harare last week pitting information minister Jonathan Moyo against ruling party activist Goodson Nguni.

Charamba accused the media of insulting Mugabe by suggesting the 91-year-old leader could be in want.

“The First Family is in business and to try to imply that they are hard-up is really to demean the First Family,” he said.

“We have been observing a trend in the private media where there is a malicious targeting of the First Family. It is not erratic it is actually systemic and sustained.”

However, Grace Mugabe claimed last year that her husband was a poor man – in presidential terms, that is.

“Baba Mugabe he is the poorest president (but) I have never seen him asking for money from anyone,” she said then.

The president has also often moaned about his pay which is said to be the lowest for any head of state andor government in southern Africa.

“I am earning US$4,000 just now, because of the hard times this is what we decided on, that we should recognise the hard times at the moment,” Mugabe said last year.

The package has since been increased to $12,000.

Media warning

Charamba meanwhile, threatened action against the media, insisting there was a vast difference between “holding politicians to account and holding them up for ridicule”.

“Holding politicians up for account is a key component of democracy and is permissible in a democracy, but simply attacking the politicians gratuitously to satisfy your hatred of a person cannot have any dignity let alone protection in the law of the land,” he said.

“If anything, it invites a very g response and there is no way we can ever imagine in the media that a g press is founded on ill will, it can’t.”

He added: “One key law which has come up for discussion is one relating to criminal defamation …

” … and the general argument has been to say this is a left-over from the Rhodesian era and for that reason, it sits ill on a new dispensation of Independence, but what has never been interrogated is whether the behaviour of the media is not the kind of behaviour which is inviting that kind of g legislative response.

“And from what I’ve been seeing of late, it is clear that there is a way in which the media is accosting legislators and members of the executive to give a very robust response to unprofessional media conduct.

“It, therefore, becomes difficult for the ministry to persuade other sister departments to scrap off the law against this conduct because it’s a conduct that invites a ger legislative response.”

Source : New Zimbabwe