Updated: Mar 11
There is no disputing the fact that President Robert Mugabe had overstayed as the leader of our country, Zimbabwe. However, nothing could have prepared us for what was to come. We jumped, literally, from the frying pan into the fire. His replacement Emmerson Mnangagwa who came by way of a military coup has been a complete disaster. His choice of ministers a complete disaster. The mediocrity is mind blowing. The bar has been lowered significantly. From a cabinet of PHDs qualified ministers in 1980 to State security minister without ordinary level qualifications.
Where did we go wrong?
The November 2017 military coup upset Constitutionalism and Statecraft. It introduced mediocrity. Key ministerial, ambassadorial positions and the Vice Presidency parcelled out to coup leaders and cronies. Key ministries like foreign affairs, finance, agriculture where given to individuals who had no track record in public office. The finance ministry, a key ministry considering the need to interact with world financial institutions given to a failed banker.
They failed to walk the talk
The so called ‘new dispensation’ was characterised by big talk, ‘we are open for business, ‘Zimbabwe’s economy will turn around in six months, ‘we will carry out far reaching reforms, ‘we will create one million plus jobs, ‘health for all by 2020, we will re-engage with the international community, all these utterances characterised the Emmerson Mnangagwa regime at its inception. The world and indeed Zimbabweans at home and abroad extended their support and gave the former Gukurahundi genocide leader a chance to redeem himself. He had an excellent opportunity to bring all competing interests to the table, he had an excellent opportunity to unite the nation on the back of Robert Mugabe’s departure. He failed!
Pariah State status reinstated
On the 4thof March 2020, the United States extended by one-year sanctions against individuals in Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government. The reason, the new governments policies continue to pose an ‘unusual and extraordinary’ threat to U.S foreign policy. The renewal of these sanctions comes despite call by African leaders, including South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa. On the 18th of April 2018, Emmerson Mnangagwa held a meeting with U.S senators Chris Coon and Jeff Flake in a televised address and committed to Zimbabweans and the world that he will carry out reforms that will bring Zimbabwe out of primitive politics. Allow Zimbabweans to freely choose their own leaders. He was lying. He deceptively lied to the world and the people of Zimbabwe.
Robert Mugabe prophesy comes to pass
During the November 2017 coup, Robert Mugabe said something that was drowned out by the excitement of the ‘Mugabe must go mantra’. He told Zimbabweans that the man they are proposing to install as president lacked the capacity to lead a nation. The military ignored this and Emmerson Mnangagwa was brought back from exile on the back of the military and was reinstated as the leader of the ruling party. Today, the average Zimbabwean will tell you that Robert Mugabe despite his contradictions, was a much better leader. With Robert Mugabe, it was ‘carrot and stick’ with Emmerson Mnangagwa, ‘it’s all stick’
The curse of the ‘coup’
The military coup of November 2017 ‘cursed’ our politics for lack of a better word. The politics of Zimbabwe have always led the gun. The coup turned this model on its head, the gun now leads the politics. For all intents and purposes Zimbabwe is now military state with all decisions made by the Joint operations command (JOC) a body comprising of senior officials from the Zimbabwe National Army, Air Force of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, Military Intelligence and Central Intelligence Organisation. This organisation has superseded all civilian decision-making bodies and is responsible for election tempering, decapitating the opposition political parties through a series of arrests, abductions and trumped up ‘treason’ charges. For Zimbabwe to return to normalcy, the curse of the coup has to be cured.
How do we cure the curse of the coup?
Only the people of Zimbabwe can collectively cure the coup curse. Over the last few weeks, there has been talk of another military coup. A narrative planted on social media to obfuscate thoughts of a people’s revolution by the Military Intelligence. Only the people of Zimbabwe can change this political narrative. Elections will not cure the coup curse, why?
There aren’t sufficient political reforms to warrant free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. The conflation of party and state in the Zimbabwe body politic has made it impossible for political parties to compete fairly with the ruling party. There issue of real reforms is central to this. The fact that Emmerson Mnangagwa prefers to have sanctions reinstated instead of instituting real political reforms speaks deeply into this fear of reforming himself out of power.
Commodifying fear, Weaponizing food
The conflation of party and state allows Emmerson Mnangagwa to use state resources and state institutions to influence the outcome of any election held in Zimbabwe. Seventy percent of Zimbabwe’s electorate live in the rural areas. This model allows the ruling party to use fear through state institutions, army, police and militia to intimidate voters far away from social media or any other media coverage. Opposition political parties are for all intents and purposes banned from mobilising in the rural areas through legislation like MOPA (Maintenance of Peace and Order Act) Opposition parties can’t hold political meetings without the express authority of the police.
The distribution of food acquired through bilateral relations with other countries is politicised and used to buy favours from ruling party faithfuls. This is key in the political matrix of Zimbabwe. Any reforms will see this advantage being rescinded and the ruling party will never win an election without this advantage. This is why reforms will never come until the people of Zimbabwe themselves cause them to come. The world can only offer support, but it is the people of Zimbabwe themselves that must cause this to happen.
Regional bodies complicit in Zimbabwe’s suffering
SADC (Southern African Development Community) and the AU (African Union) formerly OAU are regional groupings formed at the time by regional liberation war political parties with an intention to foster political integration and later on economic and social integration. These regional organisations are now known as ‘old mans clubs, that have made power retention by liberation war political parties their main concern. They endorse flawed elections to the detriment of the people of Africa, Zimbabweans who want to see a change in government must look beyond this grouping. The extent of this problem was brought to light with the reversal of election outcomes they endorsed as ‘free and fair’ in Kenya and Malawi. Zimbabweans can’t rely on SADC and the African Union. Self determination can only come from the people themselves.
Who will liberate us from the liberators that have become oppressors? Only Zimbabweans collectively can liberate themselves. Our forefathers fought Ian Smith, initially through demonstrations, sit ins and then eventually decided to embark on an armed struggle. The mantra that Zimbabweans must adhere to the Constitution in their quest to change the government is a false and misleading narrative. The Constitution is a product of the people, not the State. A People have the authority to recall a Constitution when it stops serving their purpose. Our fathers embarked on an armed struggle in violation of a Constitution under the Ian Smith Government. When they won power, they wrote their own Constitution, making a Constitution a victors document. A Constitution is never above the people in their collective. The struggle is real.