By Nkosana Dlamini
Steel hearted President Emmerson Mnangagwa has strangely elected to withhold his and government’s condolences following the death, Sunday, of world renowned South African cleric and anti-apartheid icon Desmond Tutu, once described by late former President Robert Mugabe as a “devilish, evil bitter little man”.
Neither has his party Zanu PF sent any word of sympathy to South Africa following the demise of the peace Laurette, who died aged 90 in a Cape Town hospital.
Described by President Cyril Ramaphosa as South Africa’s moral compass, Tutu’s death has invited sympathy from some world leaders, among them UK’s Boris Johnson, India’s Narendra Modi, Zambia’s Hakainde Hichilema, Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta and Angola’s João Lourenço.
But his passing has been met with conspicuous silence right next door.
By the time of publishing this story late Monday evening, no word had come from Mnangagwa or any office mandated to speak on behalf of government.
Similarly, presidential and government spokespersons George Charamba and Nick Mangwana, a generally frolicsome pair that comments on nearly everything on Twitter, has largely been mute on Tutu’s misfortune.
Mangwana early Sunday offered a terse “May His Dear Soul Rest in Eternal Peace. #RIPDesmondTutu” via Twitter and went quiet thereafter.
Ironically, Mnangagwa is believed to have learnt of Tutu’s death while presiding over a church ceremony in Bulawayo, coincidentally on a Sunday, a day often reserved for worship in the country.
During the event – dubbed the 5th Edition of the Annual Thanksgiving and Dedication Service – some church leaders publicly passed their regrets over Tutu’s death.
However, Mnangagwa had occasion to condole with five people who died in a bus crash with a fuel tanker outside Mutare on Christmas eve.
Despite pretences of being the new dispensation, Mnangagwa, a right-hand man of many years to Mugabe, is regarded as cut from the same cloth with the once iron-hearted ex-leader.
Tutu, regarded as a highly principled and forthright cleric, clashed with Mugabe over rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
This elicited an angry reaction from the long serving leader who branded the preacher as devilish due to his open support for gay rights.