Up until now it has been mere speculation that the Herald columnist, Nathaniel Manheru, is permanent secretary for Information George Charamba. But he confirmed this in his column today.
It was Gukurahundi and the Unity Agreement that forced Manheru to reveal himself. “At the risk of revealing who I am,” Manheru wrote, Gukurahundi occurred while he was still at the University of Zimbabwe, which was the only university in the country at the time.
After leaving university, he says, he joined the government as an information liaison officer for the then State President, Canaan Banana.
George Charamba was Banana’s last spokesman and joined the new President’s Office when Banana stepped down to give way to a new executive president, Robert Mugabe.
Banana had been a ceremonial president. The Prime Minister, then Mugabe, had executive powers.
In the column targeted at those trying to bring up Gukurahundi again, Manheru wrote: “I don’t think I run this column to please any quarter, to ingratiate myself with any person or interest, from whichever corner of the country.
“Freeing myself from such arresting impulses is how I have been able to tackle any issue, all issues, all the time seeking to bring in a different, hopefully fresh, perspective to national debate. That cannot happen when I write under strictures, whether by way of fears, doubts or debts.
“Above all, I try to write from a national perspective in the sense of regarding Zimbabwe as one indissoluble polity with a given history, a united nation which is free and sovereign, yes, a polity which must forever remain free, democratic and African.
“I write from a Zanu-PF pedestal. Not simply out of gratuitous loyalty to that party. But because it remains the party of national liberation and national unity, a status it can never lose or compete for, but one it could so easily spoil by what it does or does not do, both in the present and into the future.
“But because presently it is the only party whose policies do coincide with the national interest as I see and interpret it, something I hold sacred………….
“When I talk about Gukurahundi I do so from a lived experience, not from a synthetic report founded on hearsay or some narrative by some Rhodesian-turned Catholic. I don’t do so from calculated political advantage located some time in the future. I have no such ambitions.
“I do so from a deep fear. A deep fear arising from knowing the divisive potential of any politics kneaded around this and any such occurrences.
“Any nation is bound to handle with utmost care any conflict which follows a natural faultline, more so when the faultline has failed to hold together in the past. It is very easy to cause a second failure, to burn a country, generating even greater suffering.
“I do so knowing how reckless politicians, especially those embittered by the loss of what they view as posts natural to them, can very easily rake fresh these ominous faultlines. They hope to gain from the ensuing conflict, indeed hope to use these natural faultlines to mobilise people for what in reality amounts to a narrow personal quest for power and office.
“Often they never make it, usually getting eaten by those conflicts. But they will have burnt a nation. Above all, I do so from deep anger at what I see as an attempt to wreck an accord designed to foster peace in the land, designed by leaders of far greater vision than the little men who prance about getting shorter with each jump at ambition, presently seeking high office they clearly don’t deserve, judging by their little outlooks and warped visions.
“It is not sheer coincidence that the reissuing of the whole debate on Gukurahundi coincides with new appointments done recently. It is also quite telling that the debate happens on the Internet, in papers and by way of opinion pieces, themselves platforms and instruments which have absolutely nothing to do with the interlocutors of Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe when they sought to present the Unity Accord as a proposal and mechanism for national peace, national healing and national reconciliation.”
It was not clear why Manheru finally decided to disclose who he really is.