The Ministry of Information is the Government of Zimbabwe’s engine for transition into a more connected and empowered society between its citizens and government, thus promoting a more accountable and transparent Government as outlined by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
However recent events in the current communications department is slowly exposing the appointing authority who is the president.
The communications department is comprised of the minister Monica Mutsvangwa, her deputy Energy Mutodi, permanent secretary Nick Mangwana and Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and cabinet, George Charamba, who doubles as the presidential spokesperson.
These individuals are supposed to be the engine to give citizens the direction of government and Mnangagwa’s policies.
This cockpit seems to be shaking as some members seem to be eyeing to be the sole pilots and they have divergent approaches to policy issues and how information is disseminated to citizens.
It appears there are some hardliners who were previously aligned to the old guard and are against Mnangagwa’s reformist agenda where he is trying to open up democratic spaces, push re-engagement and being ‘soft as wool’ as he said in his own words.
Such behavioral traits are exhibited by the spokesperson who seems to opt for a ‘tough’ stance.
This can be evidenced by the inconsistencies in statements made by Mnangagwa and his spokesperson on same issues.
When Mnangagwa travels on his re-engagement missions, he attracts a lot of international media and portrays himself as a person who has reformed and adopted a soft stance.
However, his spokesperson’s statements back home are a complete negation of his principal’s sentiments.
Below we highlighted some events that can shed more light and buttress the above submissions.
1) In January, Mnangagwa posted a video drop in which he declared that he was solely responsible for all the information posted on his official Twitter handle and it was his opinion.
2) Charamba then came out guns blazing saying citizens must not listen to or take the Tweets on Mnangagwa’s handle seriously as the messages do not portray a genuine or a reflection of the president’s opinions.
3) The Ministry of Information then publicly declared that the messages on Mnangagwa’s Twitter handle were genuine and citizens must treat them as such.
4) On Monday, Mutodi then pulled a shocker on Star FM wherein he dismissed the authenticity of messages and information disseminated on the Twitter handle.He said the communication on that handle was not a true reflection of Mnangagwa’s opinions.
The scenarios are like a deja vu and reminscient of the Robert Mugabe administration where policy inconsistency became the order of the day.
Ministers would wantonly make policy announcement and the communication system was just chaotic.
The Indigenisation Act is one such policy whose inconsistencies were so intense such that it scared away potential investors.
The current administration needs to change this and have a proper communication channel .
Citizens end up confused as to who is in charge?
President Mnangagwa must act swiftly and order his lieutenants in the Communications department to shape up or ship out.
Discord in Mnangagwa’s communication department is a time bomb that can have a ripple effect on his entire administration as displayed on Tuesday by the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
In the afternoon, they issued a statement disputing reports by Sky News who broadcast a video stating that members of the security forces assaulted a civilian/
The police said it was an old footage of an incident that occured in 2016 and later on the same day they made a ‘soft’ retraction in which they claimed to have arrested one of the culprits in the video.
The communications mechanisms in the Mnangagwa administration really need to be spruced up and comrades in his communication department must bury their differences and deliver their mandate- that of relaying correct and informed information from government to citizens.