STAFF WRITER 28 February 2017
HARARE – Moved by a comment that the country’s most influential newspaper
wrote in its edition of yesterday, regarding how Zanu PF is honouring him
on his birthday, President Robert Mugabe yesterday thanked the popular
daily for its “good message”.
In the editorial, Zimbabwe’s leading newspaper encouraged those organising
the 21st February Movement celebrations to stop hosting such expensive
bashes for Mugabe, and instead use all the money raised in his name for
this purpose for worthier causes.
In a surprise telephone call yesterday, Mugabe’s spokesperson George
Charamba contacted Daily News editor Stanley Gama to convey the veteran
leader’s message of appreciation.
“President Mugabe read the whole comment you wrote today (yesterday) and
clapped his hands saying the Daily News, although very critical, had
conveyed a good message not only to him as an individual but the people of
“He (Mugabe) said I must contact you to express his appreciation of the
advice you gave him.
“He said that the event raised $75 000 for children with disabilities and
for their other daily needs like lotions, in the case of people born with
albinism, and this money will soon be distributed throughout the country
for the benefit of these disadvantaged members of society.
“The president agrees with many of the concerns you raised in the
editorial and promised that the next events will be better organised
especially on the need to raise money for the underprivileged.
“He asked me to tell you that he is a leader who listens to good advice no
matter where it is coming from,” Charamba said.
Part of the comment read: “We want to recommend a different way in which
Zimbabweans should honour him (Mugabe), to help heal our troubled country
and also sway the hearts of those who wish him ill.
“There is no doubt that the 21st birthday movement is now associated with
controversy, excess and factionalism, with many of those tasked with
managing this annual jamboree seemingly hellbent on advancing their own
narrow interests rather than celebrating Gushungo and his life, or
advancing national goals.
“This is not just most regrettable, but also an avoidable bloat on the
“Why for example, was money not raised this year in the president’s name
to help the many victims of Cyclone Dineo in Matabeleland, instead of
holding a divisive feast in the province which did little to lift
Gushungo’s name and advance the interests of all Zimbabweans?
“And couldn’t the 21st February Movement be used to raise funds for
scholarships and to build infrastructure at poor rural schools, or to
either build or equip rural clinics as other worthy examples?”.
Gama thanked the president through Charamba, who is also the permanent
secretary for the ministry of Information that is led by Dr Christopher
Mushohwe, who has worked tirelessly to improve further the relationship
between the government and the independent media since he was appointed to
“It is very pleasing to see that the president reads, respects and is
alive to our sometimes critical, but well-meaning journalism.
“Indeed, even when we are probing and telling the Zimbabwean story
robustly like it is, as we always do without fear or favour, we do this
because we love our country and want to see it succeed.
“In that light, kudos to the president for recognising and appreciating
our watchdog role, and may all his lieutenants follow his laudable
example,” Gama said.