Presidential spokesperson George Charamba has claimed that President Emmerson Mnangagwa only takes alcohol in the first six months of the year, a routine drinking habit he has observed for over forty years.

Charamba said this in response to a video that went viral on social media platforms over the weekend which showed Mnangagwa seemingly drunk. The video was shot on Saturday when Mnangagwa was officiating at a fundraising event and launch of the Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa University of Zambia scholarship programme.

In the video, Mnangagwa appeared to be struggling to walk steadily and was “helped” to get to the podium.

Posting on Twitter, Charamba said during the armed struggle, in 1978, senior guerilla army officials took an oath against heavy drinking.

The oath was taken in the aftermath of the death of Peter Baya, then Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) commander, according to Charamba.

ZANLA was the military wing of Zanu during the armed struggle.

Baya succumbed to a liver condition in the late 1970s, allegedly due to heavy drinking. Charamba tweeted:

The visibly upset Tongogara (late chief of defence (CoD), Josiah) reminded all present that as freedom fighters, they all had taken an oath to die from enemy bullets, not from alcohol as had happened to Cde Baya.

From now onwards, bellowed the no-nonsense ZANLA CoD, every senior officer had to take mhiko (oath) committing them to a restrained drinking cycle.

Charamba claimed Mnangagwa was among the guerilla leaders who took the oath. He wrote:

While other commanders would break their oaths almost immediately upon making them, young Emmerson who was also head of security, adhered to his, religiously, right up to the end of the struggle.

He did more. He took this austere drinking schedule into independence, right to this day.

Charamba further stated that President Mnangagwa takes alcohol moderately in the first half of the year and totally abstains during the rest of the year. He said:

Those of us who work close to him know that the President’s year is divided between wet season, which starts on the eve of each year, and dry season which religiously commences 1st June again each year.

The wet season passes for the opening six months during which the President may entertain a bit of alcohol, even then on very few social occasions.

… Folks, the month is November, a good five months into the President’s dry season. A good five months into the no-no-no-alcohol part of his year. Let’s invent other stories of malice, in our vain hope to discredit him.