Monday, April 22, 2024

If I were Emmerson Mnangagwa…

The president of Zimbabwe is my home boy; we use the same road home and our homes are barely two miles apart even though on the opposite sides of Runde River.

I wish him well but my bigger wish is that he could seize this opportunity that came his way and employ a radically different path from Robert Mugabe, his predecessor.

Even if he mistook the multitudes of people who filled the streets of Harare when the army made its maneuvers as people’s expression of his own popularity, he could have made swift moves to show the arrival of “a new dispensation”.

I am saying that he had, and still has, the opportunity to set himself apart from the “old dispensation”.

Mnangagwa has the opportunity to change his political party, behavior of government officials and actually set a new ambitious path for the nation. He has the chance to prove that Zimbabweans are hopeful and deserving people who deserve to be rewarded.

Mnangagwa has all the opportunity to chart a new path that would set him apart and actually elevate him in the eyes of both the international community and the citizens of Zimbabwe.

It is not good for him that seven months after being installed as president, he has not made moves to untie the shackles placed on the people by Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabweans hoped for a change in direction. They expect the injection of an economic antibiotic to ease them back into active participation of their country’s wellbeing and to be part of a renaissance. What Zimbabweans do not need is the daily pronouncements of billions of investment pledges and borrowed money pouring into the country. They know they will pay heavily for it.

More than thirty years of abuse have proved that Zimbabweans are patient people.

The way they suffered through the excesses of the previous government while showing an incredible amount of restraint is an indication of the love they have for their country.

How long would Mugabe have lasted were Zimbabwe lodged somewhere, say, between Benin and Nigeria?

But here we are and, if I were Emmerson Mnangagwa, there is only one thing I would do to impress my name into the annals of history.

Set Zimbabwe free!

If I were Mnangagwa, I would realise that since I never won a real election in my own right, I have nothing to lose.

I would see that I did not campaign for this presidency but got it anyway and so cannot lose something I never really had.

I would see that I could gain a lot more power by giving all the power to the people.

I would realise that as long as the people are not free, I, too, am not free.

If I were Mnangagwa, I would hijack this internal party revolution and give it to the people.

I would see that, apart from my decades-old lack of popularity, I could make up for that by recognizing that I am one of the people.

Instead, Mnangagwa is content to follow the old path that destroyed the country.

He is happy to use the same laws that stripped the nation and its people of dignity and freedom.

Mnangagwa is unable to show some originality.

Imagine if he had declared the extinction of repressive laws, such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Public Order and Security Act.

Imagine if he had opened up the airwaves and allowed state-controlled newspapers, radio and television stations to be professional.

Just imagine if he had set the people free.

Imagine if he had come down hard on political violence, if he had stopped the use of food aid to force people to support his party.

Instead, he is using Mugabe’s repressive laws; he is shouting non-productive slogans that paint those who do not support him as traitors.

Mnangagwa reminds me of a scene in my fantasies in which a lonely boy suddenly finds himself not only in a toy shop but is told that he owns the shop.

Mnangagwa should sit down and ponder about how he ended up at State House.

Was he a preferred choice over others by the military? Or he was a convenient compromise in a desperate effort to stop Robert Mugabe’s violently ambitious wife, Grace?

I can’t help but feel sorry for Mnangagwa for he faces more than double jeorpady.

It cannot be denied that he has always been unpopular, but Zimbabweans were desperate to see the back of Robert Mugabe and did not make a fuss when Mnangagwa was asked “to come back home and lead the country”.

The bad thing about freedom is that if you don’t share it with the people, you will lose all of it. If I were Mnangagwa, I would have taken a detour and given the people all the freedom and power so I could have all the freedom and power.

The people are the only ones who can protect him, not the army. It now remains to be seen that, since he has not been able to align himself fully with the people, what leverage, if any, does he have not only with the military but with the people.

If I were Mnangagwa, I would do the exact opposite of what Mugabe did.

I would reform Zanu-PF and come down hard on corruption. It does not augur well for Mnangagwa that all the lawbreakers and looters are running free in the country with some in his  government thumbing their noses at their victims ÔÇô the taxpayers.

The known culprits who beat, maimed and killed many people are free and are living well in Mnangagwa’s Zimbabwe.

Lacking a political base of his own, Mnangagwa seems to hope that the military will keep him in office for as long as he dreams.

He does not seem to care about silent tribal opposition to his ascendancy to the presidency and that is an issue simmering within his party.

From watching Mugabe and being his assistant, Mnangagwa should have learned how not to govern.

Zimbabweans have had enough of being ruled. If I were Emmerson Mnangagwa, I would just transform myself from a ruler to a leader.


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