Mnangagwa: When sorry seems to be the hardest word to say

In the past few days, two things happened that make me worry about this country’s future, as there seems to be a concerted, but tragic effort to airbrush the country’s history in an effort to portray villains as heroes and vice versa.

By NQABA MATSHAZI

President Emmerson Mnangagwa was quoted in The Economist, saying the 2008 elections were “very fair”.

I briefly alluded to this in my last column, but, instead of being a once-off gaffe, a pattern is emerging, where this current administration is trying to distance itself from the atrocities of the past and portray Mnangagwa as someone who recently happened on the political scene without any baggage.

If you did not know any better, you would think that former President Robert Mugabe was running a one-man band and only he, and at worst his wife, Grace, are responsible for the mess that Zimbabwe finds itself in today.

Mnangagwa’s previously vaunted record as Mugabe’s enforcer and confidante is now being conveniently left out.

While an argument can be made that Mugabe was in charge and the buck stopped with him, surely his accomplices ought to be painted with the same brush and cannot be said to have been sheepishly and unquestioningly following their leader.

If one can argue that Mnangagwa was just following instructions and was a mere minion as his spokesman, George Charamba, wants us to believe, then the President’s principles ought to come into question.

If Mnangagwa stood unquestioningly and loyally at Mugabe’s side during the Gukurahundi massacres, the Willowgate scandal, the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme, the food riots of 1997-8, the farm invasions of 2000, the electoral violence of 2002 and 2008, with the accusations of rigging, Operation Murambatsvina of 2005 and the economic collapse of the last two decades, then how different is the current President from his predecessor and how does he escape scrutiny?

Back to the 2008 elections, which Mnangagwa said were very fair and peaceful, the President has to be asked why his Zanu PF party had to be forced into a power sharing agreement if the polls were anything close to fairness and peace.

It is not lost on many that Mnangagwa was Mugabe’s chief elections agent in the 2008 elections and by saying they were fair, he is trying to absolve himself of any blame.
Mugabe’s reign was ruinous and should have ended years back, but Mnangagwa cannot escape scrutiny over the 38 years he has spent in government, with the overwhelming majority of those years as the former President’s confidante.


Then Charamba went a step further, saying Mnangagwa had no role to play in the Gukurahundi massacres, quite a weird statement to say, considering the amount of information that is emerging about that dark period.

It must be difficult for Charamba, who spent years trying to defend Mugabe against accusations of instigating Gukurahundi and now has the unenviable task of throwing his former boss under the bus, while at the same trying to absolve the incumbent.

Mnangagwa was not the commander in chief then, but ran the Security ministry, which was central to what was happening then.

He was quoted in The Chronicle of March 1983 referring to “dissidents” as cockroaches and saying the government would use DDT to exterminate them, hardly the words of a minion.

There are many such statements that were attributed to the President and I will not belabour the point.

What is worrying is the failure by this administration to take responsibility for their actions and apologise for their past misdeeds and enabling Mugabe.

While saying sorry will not assuage everyone, it will differentiate this administration from the one it succeeded, rather than it being different sides of the same coin with Mugabe’s administration.

Probably there is a fear that if they will apologise they will be seen as weak, but that is far from the truth.

The United Nations says an honest and sincere apology has the potential to restore dignity and diminish fear of retaliation or even desire for vengeance on the receiving end.

“On the giving end it can be a powerful tool to reconcile a . . . relationship and to initiate the restoration of trust.

“Accordingly, an apology can show strength of character, demonstrate emotional competence and reaffirm that both parties share values in their relationship they want to commit to.”

By refusing to apologise or pretending the past never happened and trying to rewrite parts of history, this administration is only engendering resentment from people who have suffered excesses at the hands of Zanu PF.

Mnangagwa has been so averse to an apology, despite being granted several opportunities to apologise on the world stage, and has insisted on moving forward and not being slaves of the past.

However, the country cannot move on when there are so many unresolved issues and trying to airbrush the past will not help in anyway.

An apology, while not a magic bullet, will help some of the affected people find closure and begin on a process of healing.

Mnangagwa may argue that he was not in charge, as he did in a New Statesman interview, but there is no harm in apologising on behalf of the government.

For example, successive Japanese prime ministers have apologised for that country’s atrocities during World War II even if they were nowhere near the levers of power during that period and this has not diminished their statures, nor of their country.

The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, which Mnangagwa signed into law recently, will not achieve anything if the powers that be are so keen on protesting their innocence and it is no surprise that most of its meetings have been disrupted, because some people feel that is not a sincere exercise, but some elaborate window dressing charade.

As The Economist aptly put it: Zimbabwe is open for business, but closed for remorse.

Feedback: nmatshazi@southerneye.co.zw Twitter @nqabamatshazi

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29 Comments

  1. josphat mugadzaweta

    100% mfowethu nothing to add or subtract. food for thought for those planning to vote EDiot. in fact i label the coming election CROCexit

    1. kkk makanyanya mkoma

  2. You really are obsessed with ED. It’s quite ok but you don’t have to sound so angry in every article.

    1. We all have every reason to, when we are being abused and led astray by our very own leaders.

  3. Forget it if ‘sorry’ is the only word which exist in your memory then say sorry on behalf of the previous administration, running a country is not as easy as talking a walk in the park and that’s what need to be understood.

    1. You sound like imbecile. Its quiet one of the easiest jobs that’s why they kill to get hold of the job. Whats difficult by removing indegnsation? or removal of this toxic tax system, arresting the corrupt ministers/ former.

  4. #EDHASMYVOTE NOTHING WILL CHANGE THAT.

    1. ED was the brain behind gukurahundi. He was mugabe’s trusted right hand man.That’s is why there is no change in real human rights policies and on top of that he recycled deadwood in his cabinet. In 100 days 3 vendors killed, some killed during the coup and many are dying as a result of doctors striking. Mnangwagwa must go. EDiots vote for him

      1. #EDHASMYVOTE….you won’t change that chero ukavukura sei

      2. KKKKK if you think you are decampaigning ED then think again. RGM was the Commander in Chief during Gukurahundi so how can you say ED was the brain behind. As for the coup you sound very confused are you sad that Mugabe was removed and how many died under Mugabe’s reign. That only EDiots vote for ED is not only hateful but stupid and will haunt you in the not so distant future. One marketing guru once said if want to win a customer don’t concentrate on the shortcomings of your competitors’ product but instead concentrate on the benefits or advantages of your product. If you continue with this ‘trolling’ strategy then better prepare for the big disppointment coz the so called “EDiots” WILL HAVE IT varizii zvavo

      3. NOTHING HAS CHANGED. THE POLICE ARE BACK ON THE ROADS. MABHINYA ARIKUBHINYA. PANEKUMHANYISA MABHINYA VARIKUMIRAMUMA ROADS ZVAKARE. VOTE FOR REAL CHANGE GUYS RELA CHANGE

  5. Sorry is not an easy thing to say. I would settle for even simple honesty. Lying to the populace about 2008 suggests any of several assumptions being made about us, non of them flattering: simple minded, forgetful, easily fooled/gullible, stupid…

  6. mfowethu umnangagwa kasoze atsho usori lowo not because it will portray him as a weak lead, no. ZANU PF has never regarded the people from matebeleland njengabantu. allow me to give u notable examples. when mai mujuru was minister of post and telecommunications she refused to say sorry to father zimbabwe and vice president joshua nkomo after labeling an old and senile person. mgabe never forced her to do so too. remember the issue again of first and second vice presidents between him and mphoko. look again on the seating arrangements of the VPs next to the president. VP from ZANU PF on the right side of the president kuskela ubaba unkoma esaphila while that from PF ZAPU on the left. kasoze umnangagwa axolise on behalf of the government for what they did during the gukurahundi era because kuye the ndebeles are nonentities. kuyacasula mfowethu okwenzakaloyo

  7. Danai Pazvagozha

    Did the dissidents apologise for the mayhem they caused???

    1. danai, can u pliz name any 3 dissidents u know ndivaudze vakukumbire ruregerero right away for being dissidents.

      1. I think an apology should also come from the new Ndebele King for the mayhem inflicted on the peace loving Shona people who were terrorised by Mazdviti. Come to think of it, the Shonas were first killed and terrorised by the Dzvitis as if that was not enough the Whiteman later came and dispossed them of the little that was left yet some people would want put all the blame Shonas. Get me right I am not disregarding Gukurahundi but as a people we need to understand that we have wronged one another in the past and we need to learn to forgive each other and move forward and make sure we don’t repeat the same mistakes of the past.

        1. Which Ndebele King? You seem forget that ED led gvt denied them the cultural right to have a King. Tere is currently no Ndebele King.

      2. Mkandla, he is alive, Gayigusu, Gwasela, please tell them

      3. Danai Pazvagozha

        Max Mkandla, Gayigusu, Gwasela. I hope you are not insinuating that there were no dissidents.

  8. Young and in Charge

    So Elisha, tell us just how hard running a government is. Are you justifying the cold blooded murder of thousands of innocents as part of the hard aspects of rulling? On the contrary, i think politics is one of the easiest as one can join at any point and with any qualifications. To stress my point, you can have a Dr Sekeramayi and an illiterate Chinotimba seating in the same parliament. So whats needed is just common sense and good natuaral discreation, humility is a good additive. Look at ED for instance. What stroke of genius has he done? All is pure common sense. Pulling away ZRP from the streets and firing the corrupt Chihuri, its hardly genious but common snse. Firing the gaffe prone, arrogant Dokora is also pure common sense. So indeed, i do not see anyone with common sense and a sense of morality and justice failing to run government. Remember right now a major, complicated country like France is being run by a 40 something year old Marcon.

  9. Now I understand the meaning of Zimbabwe having high literacy level…. it means many including Charamba are educated in the literal sense NOT in the real sense. Look, if one hires an adult hitman to successfully commit murder, then both persons will be convicted of murder if caught. One does not need to be a Harvard or Cambridge lawyer to know that none of the ministers of government during Gukurahundi was below the age of 18 hence those implicated are equally criminally liable if not more, given that some of the atrocities against the elderly, women and children, may have been at their discretion, not as instructed from above.

  10. Political turnaround and /or sound, transformative leadership cannot be realised via the authors of the same problems bedevilling the nation. For now, all we can expect are empty promises and cosmetic changes. We have to make the right choice in the coming election, lest we remain in the same yoke indefinitely. Hot air, voter beware!

  11. This article on point. The so called new dispensation want people to believe that they joined politics yesterday and became presidents. RG didn’t stay in power on his own, ED and company were behind him so they helped one another in creating this mess.

  12. Bottled smoke is what is on sale here. The hope is a good number of Zimbos will be naive enough to believe the new era mantra and give a real mandate come election 2018. The sad thing is indications are a good number have been taken on but the truth is try as ED might do he and Zanu cannot be Zimbabwe’s best foot forward.

  13. With elections around the corner, just go and vote for a candidate of your choice. These platforms never change anybody’s thinking or choices. I liked Tsvangirai as a personal brand but because he is late I have revised my position and it has been greatly influenced by the “bloodless coup” and ED in my opinion must be voted in to thank him for the courage to remove that old fox who was the real brains behind the Gukurahundi. He took too big a risk and chances are he would have been dead by now if he had slipped just slightly. Of cause its said he was part of the Gukurahundi machinery I think in due course he must own up and set the record straight. He must perhaps as a healer publish the Dhumbutshena and Catholic Bishops Reports on what really happened. Meanwhile I think we should have level heads about it non of us is an angel after all.

  14. You bring up a compendious national issue and you rally a real good number of concerned people around the matter. Its a national question that should not be left to fade into oblivion, care must be taken in handling this matter brought about by a “moment of madness”. The dissidents were a real menace and they had to be fought but the killing of civilians is unforgivable. Some seek to tribalise the issue but how accurate is the theory when Chibondo comes to picture. There was not a single Ndebele there but they were all victims of the same madman. ED is ordering the opening of business in the country that includes the mines soon the shafts will be revealing their odious secrets. Let shope he will candidly meet the challenge. Fools like Njastereki and Samaritan have no role to play in the matter except to nauseate

  15. Robert Mugabe ran the show on his own from 1980 to November 2017. The man never accepted any advice from anyone. He thinks he knows it all. While some pretended black rule or independence came in 1980, it only came in November 2017. Everyone was under Mugabe’s thumb. Emmerson and others just followed blindly. Nobody would dare defy Mugabe. The army made sure everyone did as Mugabe wanted. The one and only reason why the army ousted Mugabe was because their positions were under threat from Grace. Emmerson and others are too embarrassed to admit they were blind followers. But they are equally culpable.

  16. #EDhasmyvote, let us show these barking dogs in the ballot. They are trying to paint ED with a contaminated brush to convince us to dump him in the elections…..we are going to vote for ED not some overzealous chap who go and stand in a bank queue with 8 people in a bid to convince the electorate that he is queuing for hours to get cash from the bank, where on earth can 8 people queue for cash for the whole day??? a chap who lies that the US gvt promised us $15 billion only to apologize later on…..a chap who takes over the presidence of the opposition Morgan achiri mupenyu……a chap who is now deifying himself by claiming that he is the chosen of God to rule Zim

  17. what a great leader #ED# DEFINITELY I WILL VOTE FOR HIM

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