Tsvangirai/Mnangagwa Meetings And My Call From "The President's Office"

Most of you reading this blog know that you can not mistake a call from "The President's Office". Yes, it is that unique number, the one with five zeroes in it (and it is a land line). The presidential switchboard numbers, as you will know, have 7 digits where most others in Harare have six.

Well, I was extremely surprised at about 3 p.m. today to get a call from that number and even more surprised that the caller seemed keen to "clear the air" about the meetings I reported on yesterday between Tsvangirai and Mnangagwa.

To start with, I was surprised that the caller referred to "the article you wrote in the Zimbabwean". I did not. I have never written for The Zimbabwean in my life, ever. I checked it out later and it turns out the article was taken from this blog by an online newspaper called The Zimbabwe Mail. The Zimbabwean then took the same article from the Zimbabwe Mail.

This is now a familiar story with my articles. I must say that I have personally given permission to The Zimbabwe Mail to use my articles on condition they credit the source and provide a link to this blog within that story, as is normal ethical practice in the online industry. 

Other "publications" on the Internet are also now so obsessed with this blog that, normally , within an hour of me publishing anything here, they would have stolen it and put it on their websites. I thought I would clear the air on that and tell you that it is only The Zimbabwe Mail who use my posts here with permission.

The Zimbabwean did nothing wrong in picking the article up from The Zimbabwe Mail, together with the credits to source at the bottom of it.

Anyway, my caller today puzzled me greatly because I was not sure what he was trying to achieve. He claimed that he wanted to give me "context", which is surprising because the President's Office does not bother itself with newspaper stories, let alone bloggers.

Whatever the case, the person at the other end, who I would have cut off as a wacko were it not for the number reflected on my screen, claims that I "missed the true significance" of the story that was given to me about the meeting between the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence.

He says the true story is not about Mugabe's reaction and that I was "supposed" to look into the fact that the two men, Tsvangirai and Mnangagwa, are both from the same ethnic group (Karanga). This, apparently, is where the true significance of the story lies.

"How do you know that it was not His Excellency himself who asked Mnangagwa to speak to Tsvangirai as a home boy? No matter what happens in the future, the president knows that if Mnangagwa is a big player in the politics of tomorrow, then the Minister of Defence would always safeguard the interests of not the president, but also the liberation war?"

What my caller was insinuating, basically, is that the president was using the ethnic bond between the two men to sound out the future, to see whether his "legacy" would be protected once he leaves the national stage.

What I found disconcerting was this caller's emphasis on ethnicity. For instance, he claimed that "the two people who have mastered African tribal politics in post-colonial Africa are Robert Mugabe and Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya."

It is disconcerting for me because, I have never, ever thought in terms of tribal politics and I really do not think that such politics has a place in the 21st century.

Still, the mentality seems strong enough and I am not sure whether MorganTsvangirai would want to perpetuate such divisive politics. I have never seen him as a tribal politician, which is a hallmark of ZANU PF power games.

Which means I doubt very much that the PM would be swayed by ethnic considerations in his decisions. I could be wrong, but I hope I am not.

But the call puzzled me because I can not see what it was trying to achieve really. A colleague in our office pointed out to me that the PM is now working from the Presidential Office Complex and that the call could easily have been made by one of his own as opposed to one of Mugabe's men.

Even then, I still can not see the point it.

So I am going to do an unusual thing here: There are three readers of this blog who have, in my experience of exchanges with them, proved astute analysers of events and I would ask that they perhaps give their thoughts. 

So step forward, Mr Mutota, Thokozile and Oliver (I will not give the last name, cause I am not sure he wants to be identified, but you know who you are and I have even made an article out of one of your email comments to me).

Do any of you guys see anything in this that I am missing? I would really really appreciate those incisive and insightful analysis from you right now. And, of course, anyone else who believes I may be missing something here.

The story was straightforward to me before that accursed call came through!!!

P.S. By the way, I am failing to access my blog to post new stories today, must be the internet connection again. So to post this article, I have used a very convenient feature in Wiindows Vista, where you can compose your article in MS Word and, as long as you have some form of internet connection, you then "send" your post to your blog by putting in your Google user name and password into the Windows Vista dialogue box.

This explains why this post has no pictures in it, I have not figured out how to do that yet!! And, although Windows Vista tells me my ppost has been published, I have no way of seeing it on my own blog until the connections improve enough for me to see my Blogspot blog.


  1. Getting calls from the VP's office, eh? Proves you are doing something good, Denford. Keep at it. I know I get my Zim news from you. Just stay safe.

  2. It raises a lot of questions and suspicions when one calls with an unidentifiable number.In this case a number that one would associate with the President's office. The caller did not challenge the credibility of the article, but wanted to raise his office's or principals' concerns, and discomforts.That serves to endorse the content of the article as true fact, but somehow inconvenient to some.
    By using a number known to be from the President's office, the intention could have been to send a signal to Denford, that his works are being monitored and they are cause for concern, its some scare tactics.Its an effort to restrict and control Denford's pen.
    It is said President Mugabe went ballistic upon having knowledge of the meetings, was President Mugabe playing politics here, that is indicating left but turning to the right? Would Mnangagwa take such a risk of conducting a secret meeting which President Mugabe will be against, knowing well the punishment that would be meted on him by Mugabe who surely can sink him into political oblivion?, and Mnangagwa knows that.
    Is Mnangagwa being used to convert Prime Minister Tsvangirai to some super patriot in Zanu Pf's sense and definition of the word?
    We all know now that the political direction Zim has to take is now through secret meetings of the two rival main political parties, excluding their supporters. Such meetings have a potential of having serious negative implications on either party's support base.They all want to retain and enlarge their support base since they still need to rely on them to remain powerful and influential should they fail to achieve or reach a consensus through their secret meetings.Bringing such secrets in the public domain is very inconvenient and poses a very serious danger on the political survival of those involved.The caller could have been PM Tsvangirai's men or President Mugabe's/Mnangagwa's men for they both share the same fear, and the same effects of the consequences of such dealings in the eyes of their supporters.
    Truly speaking the caller had no sensible grievance here, despite displaying some discomfort, and suggesting a different motive behind the meetings. Any one came form up their own opinion and views, including Denford upon learning of such underground political dealings, by two rivals.The caller can not and should not dismiss any one views without giving a convincing factual argument.We can read the caller's mind by his statement that "How about if it was Mugabe sending Mnangagwa," that was good,he should also accept more than a hundred "How about if it was this... or that...? which other people can formulate.
    The caller should have written to the publication/blog that carried the story and raise his issues, if he has any sensible issues of concern, than to employ a scare tactic.
    We need transparency in that inclusive gvt in all their dealings, and Denford has been doing a wonderful job in exposing the inconvenient truth.

  3. I do not yet fully understand the full picture but there are some points that are more or less immediately clear.

    One, if it is true that Mugabe has previously hinted to Munangagwa that he intends to pass the reigns to him then there was no reason that Munangagwa would have gone on to hold private meetings with Tsvangirai. Especially after the Tsholotsho indaba.

    This means Mugabe was very much aware of the meetings. To further support that, these are '6' meetings we are talking about and it is inconceivable that such a number of meetings would proceed in Mugabe's world with him clueless. So Mugabe new. If Munangagwa wanted to have many discussions with Tsvangirai he could readily discuss that under a public theme, this being the recurrent land invasion since some of the involved elements are reported to be from the Military which falls under Munangwas ministry.

    I think people are now doctorates at taking Mugabe at face value. I think his element of surprise was merely meant to mislead the public. The reporting in Zim is now more like 'Mugabe said...' and 'it is what he said' which is not always true.

    Now the question comes to why such a large number of meetings, 6 , between Mnangagwa and Tsvangirai? First, it cannot be about Tsvangirai wanting a prime ministerial place. Even though the west has forsaken him, Tsvangirai still commands the biggest electorate vote, and Mnangagwa has never ran for a presidential election. So if there is anyone who wants in, it has to be Mnangagwa. But this cannot be what it is about. Either it is something that has to do with Mnangagwa being in charge of the defense or about Mnangwagwa being the future heir of Mugabe. If it had to do with defense, that could have been held in the public sphere unless the target are some elements in the defense itself who might have been regarded as rogue or as reactionaries. Or my bias, that it has to do with the transition, and the meetings are a way of trying to win backing so that it is as smooth as possible.

    I think Tsvangirai would not want to taint his record by holding so many private meetings with Mnangagwa unless if it something very important. I think the guy who called you simply wants to mislead the readers. I do not think guys from the Presidential Office can just call you like that without proper consultation. If it was one department of the CIO i could have moved a millimeter.

  4. This is interesting and a bit naive to believe these issues. This is the first time I hear of the numbers reserved for the president. As much as it raises questions of whats going on behind the scenes, this also raises questions about Denford's own connections within the system. I noted last night that Denford exchanged some words with a responder who also raised the question of how information can be leaked to Denford without consequenses for the people leaking the information. The ZANU machinery is not such it can overlook the person who gives Denford the information. Instead of calling Denford for some scare tactics, that person would just be dealt with quietly - remember Chiyangwa and the lot?

    I raise these questions because in as much as Denford shouted the guy who raised these questions last night, they are valid. In what way does ZANU and Mnangagwa see Denford's blog. Far from the tribal talk the caller mentioned, I see the hand of ZANU in allowing someone inside to leak this information. This particular leak might be to cause discomfort within the Tsvangirai MDC, for the rest of the senior membership to start worrying that Tsvangirai is about to jump ship and will leave them clutching on straws. And of course the tribal card is to start wittling away the Matebeleland vote from the MDC, to say 'look, after all MDC is tribalist'. Remember Webster Shamu a few days ago was in Bulawayo telling people to vote for ZAPU when the elections come. Where have you ever heard that ZANU will campaign for another party. Clearly, a strategy is already in the mixing here, ZANU will continue to close off the rural areas where it has strongholds and at the same time try and wittle support from MDC strongholds to other parties.

    I think the issue raised by the respondent last night has to be looked in this way, he/she might not have been articulate enough to highlight this issue but we need to probe further. In what way is Denford's blog viewed in ZANU circles as the way of leaking ZANU strategy and slowly start discrediting MDC? Perhaps what I might not agree with the respondent last night was the accusation that Denford might be in on these ZANU schemes, but the generality of his argument that the blog might now be the way to discredit MDC can not be dismissed. If you look carefully, ZANU is aware that they cannot plant these stories in Sunday Mail/Chronicle as they do not reach wider readership. In Denford's blogs, they are picked up early and spread through internet newspapers which have wider readership with the youths, the mainstay of the MDC.

    So lets hold our horses in putting too much emphasis on that this might have been a warning to Denford, because it was not. ZANU has just achieved two objectives in one leak:

    - started casting doubts about Tsvangirai among his MDC colleagues by noting his private meetings with one of the most ruthless operatives of ZANU, effectively starting to sow seeds of mistrust within the rank and file
    - raising the tribal question and casting Tsvangirai as a tribalist. Even the leak that Tsvangirai had agreed not to deal with Gukurahundi is part of that strategy.

    Like the person last night, I believe the phone call is neither nor there

  5. @Complex: you raise very important and interesting questions that must be answered.

    Criticism of ZANU PF does not mean support of the MDC, and vice versa that is the basic root of this deliberate distortion of criticisms of this GNU.

    Tsvangirai is no longer an opposition figure. On the things he can do nothing about, we only shake our hands and wonder how he thinks he will rein in the army or the Attorney General. We do not condemn him for his powerlessness to help political prisoners. That is a long term project and we will give him time.

    But we are not his public relations firm at this blog, so where he errs, we will point it out ruthlessly. Our concern is what sort of country we want to live in.

    Buying expensive Mercedes Benzes (even Mandela had his donated by Mercedes Benz South Africa before he became president) while voters go without water and sewage still flows in the streets and cholera still stalks the population while the hospitals continue to crumble is simply pointing us in the wrong direction.

    I fully understand that Tsvangirai's supporters would want us to turn a blind eye to these things. But I am sorry,we can not do that.

    If this makes us "enemies" then perhaps you do belong with ZANU PF, because we do not subscribe to the view that holding a different opinions automatically makes enemies of brother.

    Reacting thus makes even more determined to show the world that the reason the emperor refuses to come outdoors is because he has no clothes.

    The future of this country must be better than its past. We will not get things by protecting incompetence or urging everyone to think alike as in Soviet Russia.

    That is how dictatorship are bred in Zimbabwe and we will never recoil from saying it as we see it for fear of being called anything.

    As Desmond Tutu once said: "The truth can never suffer from being examined, probed."

  6. @Gona, most of what is my response above is a response to your concerns and thoughts, I blieve I do not need to add any more.

    @Thoko, as always, direct and to the point. I remember your run-ins here with other commenters who sought to also intimidate you into silence, you refused....that is why I value your input here always

    @SOLOMONSYDELLE: I try to keep my head above water, thanks for the kind words!!

  7. Well Denford,

    In my earlier text, what i was simply attempting to do is to find sense in the 6 meetings because i see no reason at all that Tsvangirai might jump ship.

    I think you addressed a separate issue totally. That one which is whether Tsvangirai has the qualities of a good leader or not. Well, he does not. He lacks strategy and insight. As an opposition supporter he was synonymous with bravery and quasi--martyrhood, the only thing that he is good at. But when it comes to scheming, he is always found wanting.

    For the record, i prefer Mutambara. Strip the guy off of his personality, and you get someone with some ideas. But even he is not perfect but better and more conscious of how to navigate his surroundings. Muchekadzafa as some might want to call it is a sign of strong political acumen!!


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