Mugabe minister, spokesperson spat watched eagerly in Zimbabwe

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Harare – “The gloves are off,” tweeted one prominent Zimbabwe opposition official.

Said another: “I’m enjoying every bit.”

Zimbabweans – and not just those in the ranks of the Movement for Democratic Change – have been watching, with something approaching glee, President Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson and his former information minister, now higher education minister, tear into each other in a very public spat.

Played out on radio and social media on Thursday and Friday, the war of words between presidential spokesperson George Charamba and Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo has shed some light on the bitter battle for power within the upper echelons of Zanu-PF as Mugabe approaches 92.

Moyo is known to be a member of the so-called G40 group, which includes Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao and Saviour Kasukuwere, minister of local government. G40 members do not want Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe as president.

Charamba appears to favour Mnangagwa for the hot seat or, at the very least, he’s opposed to the G40’s plan, analysts say.

The spokesperson’s long-tetchy relationship with Moyo, his former boss, has now exploded into open name-calling.

“They are big fools,” Charamba said in comments carried in full by the official Herald on Friday, making it clear he was referring to Moyo and his allies.

“Here are little men with absolutely no iota of history behind them thinking they can one day emerge as leaders of this country, with their little minds thinking baldness is age. It isn’t,” Charamba said.

Moyo has been furiously tweeting his response, calling Charamba “a silly Shakespearean wordsmith” on Thursday. On Friday he warned: “I’m tweeting from up while he [Charamba] is down the ladder.”

Said former education minister David Coltart from the Movement for Democratic Change on Twitter: “Things are getting very interesting.”

Obert Gutu, spokesperson for the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC faction said: “Public spat btwn George Charamba and Jonathan Moyo. Let Zanu PF crush [sic]and burn.”

While not doubting the entertainment value of the fight, some Zimbabweans have wondered more soberly what the fallout will be.

“Brace up for another dramatic year guys,” tweeted @RebelMunyukwi. “The chickens are coming home to roost in Zanu-PF”.