Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru, who is widely believed to be Information Secretary George Charamba, said Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai had no message for the thousands of demonstrators that marched through the streets on Harare on Thursday, that is why the media focused on numbers.
The demonstration described as one of the largest in recent years was staged to press President Robert Mugabe to go because he has failed to turn around the country’s economy as well as to protest against the disappearance of $15 billion in diamond revenue.
Police had banned the demonstration citing shortage of manpower but the court overturned this decision allowing it to proceed.
“Interestingly one reason there was so much focus on numbers is because there was no message from the MDC-T leader to topple numbers copy,” Manheru said in his column today.
“Tsvangirai had no message absolutely. Even the placards said it all, with abortive attempts at a sparkle using the name of Itai Dzamara. And of course the $15bn dollars said to have been lost to the country since the start of diamond mining.
“I am not ignoring the banal Mugabe must go mantra, only recognising its status in dramatising a messaging crisis in the opposition. Such a worn mantra cannot carry opposition politics or the country’s politics an inch forward,” he wrote.
Manheru said the $15 billion that was missing was nothing compared to the $66 billion that Zimbabwe had lost to sanctions imposed by the West allegedly at the instigation of the MDC.
“Talking about the $15bn, surely it makes poor political inventiveness to rely on introspective observations by your opponent for your programmes? Are you holding Government to account at all? And as it emerges, Mugabe has moved miles and miles ahead in correcting the situation, in the process even serving surprises to his closest of allies.
“We are moving to a new diamond mining dispensation, in which case the figure $15bn will cease to matter sooner. And that President could take such a drastic step even against the Chinese clearly indicated the depth of the principle he espouses. That is what makes Afrobarometer repeatedly discover he is a much trusted politician. And to add it all, he proceeds swiftly to clarify government stance on indigenisation and economic empowerment.
“If one reads the $15bn said to have been lost to illicit diamond trade against over $66bn lost to MDC-T wrought sanctions, how long is it before these guys drop $15bn? The opposition is wading into dead matter.”
Manheru’s stance is the same as that adopted by the state-controlled media whose headline to the event was: MDC-T youths run amok