George Charamba, the Deputy Chief Secretary-Presidential Communications in the Office of the President of Zimbabwe, has caused a stir with his insulting remarks about Olusegun Obasanjo, the former President of Nigeria. As the official spokesperson for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Charamba labelled Obasanjo foolish and belittled his role as a mediator in the Nigerian elections.
Charamba’s comments were prompted by Obasanjo’s endorsement of Peter Obi, the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who lost to Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Nigerian presidential election held in February 2019. Charamba, who did not delete his social media post as previously stated, also called Obasanjo a failed Brenthurst experiment, referring to the South African think tank where Obasanjo serves as a senior adviser.
Obasanjo has not yet responded to Charamba’s insults, but many Nigerians and Zimbabweans have criticized Charamba for his lack of diplomacy and respect. Obasanjo, who has served as a military and civilian ruler of Nigeria and played a pivotal role in African politics and governance, is widely respected and influential across the continent.
Charamba, in contrast, has a controversial track record in Zimbabwean politics, having worked as the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information under Robert Mugabe’s regime. Some critics have accused him of being a propagandist and an apologist for Mnangagwa’s administration, which has faced accusations of corruption, repression, and economic mismanagement.
Charamba’s latest remarks about Obasanjo have sparked controversy and drawn attention to the strained relations between Zimbabwe and Nigeria, two of the largest and most influential countries in Africa. Some commentators have speculated that Charamba’s insults were intended to distract from the internal challenges facing Zimbabwe, such as the high inflation, the shortage of foreign currency, and the protests against the government’s policies.
Regardless of the motives behind Charamba’s comments, his use of derogatory language against a former head of state has been widely condemned as unprofessional and undiplomatic. Some observers have called for Mnangagwa to dismiss Charamba from his position, while others have urged the Zimbabwean government to issue a public apology to Obasanjo and Nigeria. The incident underscores the importance of respectful and constructive communication among African leaders and citizens, and the need for accountability and transparency in governance.