It makes one feel uplifted when you can no longer be associated with such garbage’ – Tichaona Zindoga
By Tony Karombo
HARARE – Publicity-obsessed first lady Auxillia Mnangagwa branded former acting Herald editor Tichaona Zindoga a “snake in the carpet” after he pushed back against her demands for prime placement in the newspaper – almost daily.
The claim was made by Zindoga on Twitter as he accused presidential spokesman George Charamba of selling the idea of dedicated media teams to Mnangagwa in a bid to win favour with the emotionally volatile wife of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The 55-year-old now goes around trailed by a dedicated media team from The Herald and the ZBC, Zindoga said.
Zindoga claims the journalists who travel with the first lady locally and internationally have become so powerful they no longer take instructions from their editors.
What triggered Zindoga was a Herald tweet that claimed Auxillia Mnangagwa had “carried her spirit of spreading love to the needy and vulnerable into the New Year, this time giving the elderly in Norton a share of her warm heart.” The tweet said she went “cleaning their homes and preparing meals to share with them, showing her humility.”
“This gripping, fantastic and riveting reportage by my former paper is the idea of our brother @jamwanda2 who last year convinced the first lady of Zimbabwe that she was not getting enough coverage, and needed not only more but a dedicated team from State media, along with information officers,” Zindoga wrote, referencing Charamba’s ghost Twitter account.
“She was convinced that any less coverage was tantamount to sabotaging her work. As such, she treated any moderation from editors – myself being the chief at the time – as a personal attack on her and her office.
“For this crime of simply identifying and anticipating pitfalls that came with over circulating her and not moderating the reportage, the first lady of Zimbabwe called the acting editor all sorts of names, including ‘snake in the carpet’.
“She said she knew that Zindoga belonged to the opposition and wondered why he was being paid by a government he did not like! She said she would make sure he would not get confirmed as full editor.
“The reporters who formed the corps of first lady media have thus acquired massive power, including at ZBC, easily disregarding their superiors because of their proximity to the office. We have heard they also call it ‘chinhu chedu’, an exclusive club.”
Zindoga said it served Charamba well to have the first lady fight him, and by extension Zindoga’s principals “after his attempts to convince President Mnangagwa through concocted dossiers got little interest.”
Zindoga was fired by The Herald in October last year after 10 months at the helm.
This is not the first time that he has sparred with Charamba on Twitter.
In December last year, Zindoga said a Herald story claiming that “G40” was paying legal fees for Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s wife was “embarrassing”, adding that it was “the handiwork of a certain antiquated doctor of spin”.
“It makes one feel uplifted when you can no longer be associated with such garbage,” Zindoga said.
Charamba shot back at the time, claiming Zindoga’s brief spell as Herald editor was less than glorious.
“Herald is a public good. Everyone agonised over its rapid, precipitous decline under you, at one time plummeting to 5,000 daily. And going by my own experience, you had taken to sending two copies of each issue to a subscriber,” Charamba claimed.
Zindoga dismissed Charamba’s claim as a “fat fib”.