via Controversy over Bob interview – DailyNews Live 23 FEBRUARY 2014
A storm of controversy is brewing about the professional conduct of Tazzen Mandizvidza, the ZBC general manager of news, in his annual birthday interview with President Robert Mugabe.
The interview was touted as a “no-holds barred interview” by Mandizvidza, but what emerged was a tepid and timid interview that was non-confrontational.
Critics say Mugabe’s interview would have “disappointed his supporters and inspired his detractors”.
It elicited a rambling response from the 90-year-old president.
Some said they were left with more questions than answers.
Zimbabwe’s main and State-controlled television station first aired the interview with the first citizen on Thursday night, the eve of his 90th birthday and aired the second installation last night.
Mandizvidza joined Mugabe for the “exclusive” at State House, recorded last week before he left for Singapore.
Africa’s oldest leader marked his 90th birthday receiving medical treatment in Singapore yesterday, reigniting rumours that the man who has ruled his country since independence could be in ill health.
While Mugabe’s aides insist he is soldiering on, his absence on his birthday because he is receiving medical attention for eye surgery — has sparked more speculation.
The interview included footage of Mugabe’s take on various issues, including factionalism, corruption, retirement and the agricultural season, but woefully fell short of follow-up questions and highlighted the dearth of interviewing skills at the State broadcaster.
Mugabe’s incoherent and evasive answers in his first full-length television interview this year reflects the troubles of his beleaguered Zanu PF party; and that he has sparse ground on which to defend his party’s recent appalling track record.
Analysts say that while it is obvious that the interview was part of a choreographed campaign by Mugabe’s team to sanitise his image, it came across as a “ public relations disaster” for Mandizvidza and Mugabe.
Throughout the hours-long interview, Mandizvidza allowed Mugabe to avoid answering specific questions, clumsily changing the subject to talk in vague generalities, and attacking his nemesis Morgan Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni.
Zimbabweans were also disheartened to learn from the Mandizvidza interview that the 90-year-old Mugabe has no plans of retiring anytime soon.
“Why should it be discussed when it is not due? Is it due?” Mugabe asked.
“The leadership still exists that runs the country. In other words I am still there.”
There was no follow-up question by Mandizvidza, who seemed to be in awe of his subject, whom he allowed to rumble on and on.
“When the day comes and I retire, yes, sure, the day will come, but I do not want to leave my party in tatters. I want to leave it intact,” Mugabe said.
Mandizvidza conveniently ignored asking Mugabe how he hoped to manage the handover of power when the time comes.
The ZBC general manager of news also squandered an opportunity to grill Mugabe about his health problems.
The former teacher has long been rumoured to be seriously ill and attempted to discredit that rumour in the interview.
“As you can see (I am) still fit as a fiddle,” he told ZBC, while admitting cataract problems and that “the left knee is beginning to be a bit of a trouble”.
But there was no challenge to Mugabe that if he was plagued with cataracts and a painful knee, then why was he claiming to be “as fit as a fiddle.”
Since the story of the broadcast emerged, Zimbabweans have taken to social media platforms to air their views on Mugabe’s comments.