IN his inaugural speech just about five months ago, President Emmerson Mnangagwa made several positive promises, suggesting a paradigm shift from tyrannical politics to that of tolerance and dialogue, as Zimbabwe closed its sad chapter of 37 years of despotic rule under ex-President Robert Mugabe.
Fast forward to April 17 this year, the same Mnangagwa appears to have forgotten his sworn pledge to servant leadership when he unleashed his battle-hardened deputy, Constantino Chiwenga, to summarily dismiss the striking nurses without even bothering to address their grievances.
Actions on the ground seem to suggest that Mugabe’s former long-serving personal assistant is finding it difficult to shake off his ex-master’s heavy-handedness, especially when dealing with dissenting voices.
Teachers who form the bulk of the civil service last week threatened to down tools when schools open for the second term next week, should government refuse to heed their calls for improved working conditions.
Instead of inviting the disgruntled teachers to the negotiating table, Mnangagwa’s henchman, Primary and Secondary Education minister Paul Mavima immediately threatened to wield the axe on any educationist who dares miss classes on opening day next week.
Beyond any reasonable doubt, given the unyielding nature that Mnangagwa’s administration is exhibiting, he has not only imitated Mugabe whom he is trying to divorce, but he has surpassed the former President’s authoritarianism and perfected the art of intolerance and intimidation, as a method of maintaining his grip on power.
Politics of threats, intimidation, intolerance and propaganda have once again taken centre stage and the question which many are asking, especially within the civil service is whether or not Mnangagwa is any different from Mugabe as he continues to ride on the legacy of the loathed dictator.
Instead of using threats, one would expect the new administration to walk the talk of tolerance that Mnangagwa has been preaching each time he appears in public wearing his trademark scarf, which many have dismissed for Rastafarianism.
We believe that embracing politics of dialogue and solutions proffering might indeed help the third Zimbabwean President to reinforce his promises with action, instead of mentioning one thing and then the next minute goes against it, in a country which claims to be defining a fresh path under the mantra “New Dispensation”.
These traits by Mnangagwa are disturbing to say the least and show that his administration has set itself a bar too high for the sake of acceptance by the international community, yet they are not yet prepared to walk the democratic route ahead of this year’s polls.
We call on Mnangagwa to stop false public posturing and remedy his political mistakes before it is too late!