Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Zimbabwe might end up worse off than before…

The dust is somewhat settling down and we are beginning to see things that we missed during the euphoria surrounding Robert Mugabe’s demise.
The outpouring emotional response of citizens on hearing that Mugabe had been removed from office was touching. In my life, I had never seen how joyful Zimbabweans can be when they not only know but feel that the chains, although still clanking nearby, had been removed.
Citizens cheering soldiers, kissing their rifles; singing, dancing and Zimbabweans polishing soldiers’ boots with their shirt sleeves were only a few of the scenes witnessed on worldwide television.
Lost in all this was a simple fact that people were celebrating the end of Mugabe not the arrival of a new messiah. The nationwide cheers were for a long awaited departure not an arrival.
When the arrival finally happened, we realized that it was just a changing of the guard: same old people, same policies and same faces.
We all took part in cheering Zanu-PF cleaning its toilet; it had nothing to do with the nation but everything to do with internal party politics. One of their own had overstayed and, instead of calling former comrades to the feeding trough, Mugabe was busy purging not only the party but nationals at large for trying to stand in the way of his ambitious lass, Grace Mugabe.
Zanu-PF is still Zanu-PF, a fact that was proved when the old “new man” now at the helm presented an embarrassing list of Mugabe’s thieving old, underperforming ministers. It is, indeed, a “new old cabinet” stacked with dead wood that received decades of chances to prove shallowness, inability but with a live sense to grab and take home everything that was not nailed down.
Our new president, Emerson Mnangagwa, does not inspire confidence in any way. My homeboy had his work cut out for him ÔÇô if only he could do the opposite of what Mugabe did. But with no new faces in his “cabinet”, we can tell that Mnangagwa himself is oblivious to what Zimbabweans expect from a leader.
It is slowly dawning on us now.
Mugabe became unpopular within his party for expelling people, including Mnangagwa, because they were a political threat to his wife. Grace Mugabegot carried away, forgetting that she was dancing on top of someone’s table before the diner plates had been removed.
She went around the country, at great expense to the taxpayer, holding venomous rallies she and Jonathan Moyo called “Youth Interface Rallies” where people, grown men and women, were insulted, shamed, threatened, embarrassed and fired from the party in football stadiums full of young people.
But Zanu-PF is not ready to change its character. They held their so-called “extra-ordinary congress” the day before yesterday and the venomous posture and the unforgiving nature of these animals were, once again, there for all to see.
Mnangagwa wore some drab, ugly thing with his face emblazoned on it ÔÇô the hero-worshipping we have suffered for over 37 years.
He went into a stupid phase of sloganeering ÔÇô forward this, forward that, conveniently forgetting that he was installed by the army and not voted for.
Then he told those in attendance that ‘forgiving is not forgetting’ while Oppah Muchinguri stood up and sloganeered by shouting, “Down with Mrs. Mujuru”, Mugabe’s former deputy of ten years who left the party a long time ago to form her own party after being expelled.
And now, Mnangagwa is spouting the same venom and firing people from the party. There is no forgiveness; we are being subjected to the vicious Zanu-PF turf wars.
Yesterday, I had an interview with Zimbabwe’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Retired Major General Dr Sibusiso Moyo, who tried his best to assure the people that they were all different from what Robert Mugabe was. 
Much as I wanted to believe him about different attitudes coming in with the same old guard, I, like everybody else, can see that Mnangagwa is not the authority but a figurehead being used by the military.
At the ‘congress’, Mnangagwa violated many Zanu-PF statutes, an indication that national or party constitutions are of no use to the military.
Indeed, one of my interviewees stated that the continuing abuse of citizens by the soldiers and Mnangagwa’s early disregard of laws and regulations were indications that Mnangagwa is not the center of power but a pawn of the military.
As I write, Zimbabwe is in no better situation than we were during Mugabe’s reign but, we hope, Mnangagwa would like to create his own piece of history instead of imitating Mugabe.
Well, his priority was to embrace homosexuals at their congress instead of striking down discriminatory and oppressive laws that he helped install and legitimize.
Yes, Zimbabweans are extremely happy to see Mugabe go as everyone who watched people pouring onto the streets to celebrate would testify but the issue remains as that of former comrades who wanted to be given a chance to steal, abuse and fool the people.
Already, human rights organizations are cataloguing the increasing abuse and human rights violations by soldiers who are usurping the roles of police officers.
Our long awaited change is off to a bad start. This “new” government did not and does not a honeymoon nor do they need time to do anything. They should have jumped into it with a determined difference in both attitude and deed.
Repressive laws are still in effect and human rights abuses are still in swing. These are issues that should have been declared absolute on the first day Mnangagwa took office.
Mnangagwa and most of his cabinet officials also carry baggage that will be difficult to “put down”.
There are decades old stories of plunder and abuse of authority. There is the accusation of implementing the Gukurahundi massacre. There are stories about the plunder in DR Congo when Zimbabwe got involved the Dry Congo to save Laurent Kabila.
But, most worrying of all is the simple fact that Mnangagwa does not inspire any confidence and his coming rejection will cause us grief.
Zimbabwe was born to suffer. I am hoping to be proven wrong.

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