President Robert Mugabe was last week the subject of rumour, as people speculated about his health and ultimately his death, only for him to make a triumphant return at the weekend.
Source: Opacity on Mugabe travels fuels speculation – NewsDay Zimbabwe September 6, 2016
Now speculation is whether this was a Machiavellian move by Mugabe, where the Prince pretends to be dead to hear what friend and foe think of him so this influences how he deals with them on his return.
There are also rumours on the nature of the family issue Mugabe was attending to.
Whatever the case, this is an indictment on Mugabe’s information department, particularly his spokesman, George Charamba, who when quizzed about his boss’ whereabouts, chose a cryptic and unhelpful answer.
Instead of being forthright and direct, Charamba told the media to resort to their “default” position, rather than saying where Mugabe was.
As an elected official, Zimbabweans have every right to ask and know where Mugabe is, and this means people like Charamba should be able to give updates, rather than self-serving statements that do not benefit anyone.
As a spokesman, Charamba should know that in the absence of information, speculation fills the void, as nature abhors a vacuum.
And because the government was not providing information on Mugabe’s whereabouts and the reason for his trip, people came up with all sorts of theories to explain his absence and what seemed like a hasty and unexplained departure from a Sadc summit.
Any person was bound to speculate when Mugabe left Swaziland, was barely in Zimbabwe for two hours and the next thing he was heading to the East.
Had the government been clear that this was a private or scheduled visit, then there would be no reason to speculate on Mugabe’s health and death.
While the government and Zanu PF would want to maintain Mugabe’s aura and pretend he is “fit as a fiddle”, surely at 92 he is no spring chicken and has some health concerns worrying him, and instead of these being a secret, carefully managing such information will reduce all manner of conjecture.
The State is not doing the President any favours by failing to provide adequate information on his travels, as this will only fuel speculation that is harmful to him and his family.
In future, the State should provide accurate information on Mugabe’s health and travels and there will be no need for speculation on his death, which can be embarrassing to his family and some of his supporters.