Luke Tamborinyoka’s letter to George Charamba

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I hope I find you in good health, even though I appreciate that it must be physically draining to play megaphone to a discredited dictator.

It is painstaking, I presume, to defend an octogenarian who suddenly has very few friends in SADC, in Africa and the broader international community.

It must be infuriating to defend an unpopular tyrant, judging by the high temperament you displayed during that abrasive interview you had with Violet Gonda of SW Radio Africa.  You lost your cool but I think that was understandable in the circumstances, especially after a whole nation had collectively decided to sell out by voting for that British puppet, Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, on 29 March.

Your anti-British stance is legendary and I think it is a monumental factual error to say you are an ex-Chevening scholar who acquired his media education in London. Why would you have gone to London when there are equally good educational opportunities in Russia, China and Uzbekistan?

I also appreciate that it is hard work to control what the ZBC and The Herald spew out on a daily basis but even then, Nathaniel Manheru must surely have time to read what comes from The Other Side.

It is public knowledge that since its historic defeat on 29 March, the regime has unleashed a reign of terror against the nation for exercising its sovereign right to reject it and vote in a new leadership through democratic means.

The state media, which you control, played a large part in promoting hate language against the MDC and its candidates and entrenching national polarisation.  The sordid tales of State sponsored violence which included rape, murder and plunder against the people of Zimbabwe cannot be complete without contextualising the inflammatory role played by the public media.

You may say these institutions, which fall under your ministry, were doing it to defend national sovereignty. But national sovereignty means our sovereign as a nation right to determine our future. It includes our right to reject a dictatorship as we did on 29 March; our sovereignty to reject the Zanu PF politics of corruption and patronage.

Indeed, our sovereignty also means our sovereign right to vote out a tyrant and his small band of bootlickers who think that the whole nation is beholden to them and their whims.

To say a whole nation is pursuing a British or an American agenda is downright stupid and insulting. It presupposes that the entire nation which voted for change; from Kazungula to Tamandayi, from Msampakaruma to Mandidzudzure, is under the spell of the British or the Americans.

It in fact represents the latent inferiority complex that has afflicted yourself and your boss. How can you honestly suggest that Zimbabweans can only vote out this dictatorship at the instigation of London and Washington? In short, it implies that the black people of Zimbabwe can only do the right thing, which is to change this government, at the instigation of some white people in Leicester, Los Angeles or Berlin. How condescending!

For you, a civil servant who moonlights as a politician, history will judge you harshly. In the run-up to the 27 June one-man stand-up comedy show, you told State media editors not to grant us equal coverage despite clear provisions of the Electoral Act and the SADC guidelines on the conduct of free and fair elections. You personally told the ZBC editors not to flight our campaign launch rally on Saturday, 22 February 2008 because, you said, the MDC crowd was too large to be shown on ZTV. You personally stopped the flighting of our advertisements in the run-up to the run-off poll even though we had paid both The Herald and the ZBC and both institutions had initially approved the same adverts.

It defies logic why you would continue to insult your own kinsmen in your rural home in Buhera by continuing to take a position which would find no takers in your own village. You must pass the village test first, George.

It is now common cause that on 29 March, in the only credible poll held this year, the people of ward 4 in Buhera West, where you come from, voted for an MDC councillor, an MDC MP and an MDC Senator. They also joined the rest of the nation in overwhelmingly voting for Morgan Tsvangirai. Indeed, your position of being a tyrant’s megaphone is out of rhythm with the general feeling in your own village.

How could a regime, which lost an election, force the winners to seek refuge in the mountains? How can the majority be forced to retreat into caves and begin to live like hunters and gatherers in this digital age while the losers roam freely, abusing State resources to terrorise the winners?

The stubborn fact is that the MDC is now the ruling party and the opposition is a tag that now refers to Zanu PF. The nation is in an irreversible transition and you must smell the coffee, George.

Mugabe may have declared himself winner in an election in which he contested against himself, but the truth is that the Presidential run-off poll is an unfinished national business. Africa, and indeed the world, will not bless a one-man stand-up comedy show as a credible election.

The reports by the SADC observer team, the African Union and the Pan African Parliament are clear that Mugabe is not legitimate. Africa will have to allow Zimbabweans to have a second bite of the cherry. Yes, George, it may not be tomorrow but Zimbabweans will do it again in a free and fair election.

Now as Zanu PF engages the MDC in a delicate dialogue process, the state media, which religiously responds to your beck-and-call, has worsened matters by continuing to throw spanners into an important national process.

How does Zanu PF hope to sincerely engage the MDC and its President in a fruitful dialogue process when the State media continues to lampoon the other party in the dialogue process? How do the public media help in confidence-building in the whole dialogue process when they continue to malign and soil the image of the MDC and President Morgan Tsvangirai?

Why do you wail loudly that the MDC is snubbing dialogue when the State media has not changed its attitude to reflect the new era of national engagement?

How do you cobble up an anti-Tsvangirai documentary when you want the same man on the negotiating table?

The point, George, is that you will not be taken seriously by your own viewers who will be wondering why Zanu PF suddenly wants to talk to such a sellout? The same viewers will be wondering why the man making such truthful accusations against Tsvangirai is hiding his face from the cameras as if he does not have the conviction of his conscience.

Your viewers will get the eerie feeling that your source in this fascinating documentary, who is not prepared to be seen by the nation as his makes his grand revelation against Tsvangirai, is himself doubting the chastity of his own mission in this botched hatchet job?

So long, George. But the last time some people abused their media privilege to promote hate language, terror and murder, during those horrific times in Rwanda, they were later made to account for their actions. I hope it will not come to that.

I equally hope that you will be able to stare history in the face and say you were right.

Yours sincerely

Luke Tamborinyoka

Director of Information and Publicity

Movement for Democratic Change

Harare

P.S. I notice that the public media published with great gusto my arrest, with seven others, on public violence charges on false allegations that I had burnt a bus during the stay-away of 15 April 2008. May I inform you that we were acquitted of the same charges on Monday, 14 July 2008 and there was silence of the grave in the state media. I hope your high office will communicate our acquittal to The Herald and the ZBC in the interest of ethical journalism.  

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