Zimbabwe has sworn in its new leader Emmerson Mnangagwa. The 75-year-old says he is ushering in a ‘new and unfolding democracy’. However, it has only been one week, and Mnangagwa has given key cabinet jobs to military figures. It is more kakistocracy, (work for the least able or most corrupt). Wish me wrong, but nothing is going to change in Zimbabwe.
Mnangagwa and Mugabe were two peas in a pod until Mugabe fired him early in November. However, they are both cut from the same cloth, the ruling ZANU-PF junta. Its leader may have changed but not the ideology of the party.
Mnangagwa stands accused of many things including, election violence, extortion, kidnapping and plundering the country’s resources. Mnangagwa as the former intelligence chief is said to have presided over the vicious cleansing of the political opposition in the Matabeleland region. Many of the Ndebele ethnic minority were amongst the 20,000 brutally killed in the Gukurahundi massacres in 1984. Both Mugabe and Mnangagwa who belong to the majority Shona ethnic group have denied involvement in the atrocities. Nor have they adequately acknowledged the independent investigator’s findings. And so no bridges have been built with the region.
Nonetheless, Mnangagwa a veteran of the Guerrilla War, where he earned the name ‘the crocodile’ has held many of the top military positions. So he has strong support among the armed forces.
Thus, it should be unsurprising that the air force General Perence Shiri,62, (who played a central role in massacres) is the new minister of lands & agriculture. Or that Sibusiso Moyo, who was the face of the recent coup, is the new foreign minister. And the former guerrilla fighter, Chris Mutsvangwa, 62, is the minister for information.
Zimbabwe has fallen from a high performing economy to one with hyperinflation. It imports more than it exports. And it’s rife with corruption.
It is not only too late but of little value to try and apportion blame for the demise of Zimbabwe. It would necessarily include Mugabe, Mnangagwa and many members of the ruling ZANU-PF.
Promisingly, Mnangagwa says he is the leader of all the people. But the country’s human rights record for just 2016 is eye-watering. So it is difficult if not impossible to bridge the gap. So systems would need to be in place to ensure it. And to guarantee the human rights of every Zimbabwean, irrespective of what their ethnic, racial, or tribal origins.
Mnangagwa should also reinstate an independent judiciary, freedom of the press, farming, agriculture and education. Zimbabwe was the most literate of the African Nations.
He says he brings a new democracy. But first, the country needs to establish itself as a multi-party democracy and comprehensively reform the electoral system. To give the people a choice and make elections free and fair. So, the promise of elections in August 2018, is either unfortunate or smart. For there is not enough time for reform.
A new Zimbabwe requires dismantling the oppression from Ian Smith’s Rhodesia, not taking it over. Otherwise, it’s an exercise in futility. However, Mnangagwa and Mugabe are from the same mould, the ruling ZANU-PF party. Its leader may have changed but not the ideology of the party. And so Mnangagwa has reinstated the old guard.