PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba yesterday denied being the controversial Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru, but defended the column after a minister labelled the author a coward.
Tourism and Hospitality minister Walter Mzembi was livid with Manheru and vented his anger on Twitter after a very scathing attack on him by the acerbic author.
Manheru had attacked Mzembi for allegedly calling for the protection of white interests in Zimbabwe for the sake of tourism.
Charamba, who has been fingered as the author of the column in the past, said although he does not pen the column, he prayed that it continued.
“Firstly, I am not Manheru. However, do you know why people use pseudonyms? It’s in statutes,” Charamba told Southern Eye.
“It’s done so that readers don’t concentrate on who the writer is, but the arguments being put forward. Whether the writer is a coward or a courageous man doesn’t matter. Whether people respond with anger, civility or what, it does not take away the arguments. Whoever this Manheru is, I pray for him to continue talking.”
In the last column, Manheru accused Mzembi of announcing issues which he claimed were contrary to what Mugabe would have pronounced about whites.
The columnist also said Mzembi’s statement went against the ruling Zanu PF manifesto when he made a presentation at the launch of the National Tourism Policy a fortnight ago.
“Forever outspoken, the minister made gripping and candid presentation of his vision for tourism for this country,” Manheru wrote.
“He would not allow himself to be shackled by considerations of neighbourliness, or African solidarity which is why he made remarks that would not leave South Africans, Ethiopians and Kenyans too pleased or feeling favoured.
“He said more. Zimbabwe had to protect the remaining whites in the country who had become an endangered species,” Manheru wrote.
“It had to protect property rights, and both remarks were made in connection to the issue of the contested Save Conservancy beneath which simmers the ever volatile land question.
“That means his remarks invited a connection with the age old, yet still virulently emotive land question.”
Manheru also attacked Justice deputy minister Fortune Chasi for his remarks in a story carried on online publication New Zimbabwe.com about the disputed July 31 2013 elections.
Chasi was quoted by the publication saying the first evaluators of the elections are Zimbabweans and “we agree that the elections were by and large free and fair, which is entirely different from saying they were perfect”.
Manheru said Chasi’s plea to civil society to help “advance the frontiers of democracy passionately and honestly” suggested a search for traction from outside of government structures and outside of ruling party structures.
Mzembi described Manheru as a coward on Twitter. He posted: “Manheru — pseudonym, but whoever it is, is a coward. If one stands for his beliefs and principles, they shouldn’t be abusive and hiding.”
Both Mzembi and Chasi could not be reached for further comment on Manheru’s vitriol.