Presidential Guard commander Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe’s recent promotion to the rank of Major-General before the release of the results of the commission of inquiry (COI) into the August 1 shooting raises a stink.
We believe such recognition dampens the letter and spirit of the former South Africa President Kgalema Motlanthe-led COI into the August 1 shootings.
What if it turns out that Sanyatwe is culpable? Well, President Emmerson Mnangagwa knows better since he received the report earlier. But we ask, was the shooting of the civilians a ploy to divert attention from the alleged rigging of the presidential election? Was it planned by the State security apparatuses to divert world attention from the legitimacy issues raised by the opposition?
Was it not wise to wait until the COI results have been publicised, given that Sanyatwe commanded the crack military unit at the centre of the fatal shooting of six civilians, with over 72 others left injured (according to civil rights groups).
It is our hope that the report does not in any way nail Sanyatwe or cast aspersions on his role in the operation. If it does, then the promotion is yet another reminder that in Zimbabwean politics, one does not rise on the basis of merit. For all intents and purposes, the promotion could be a reward of the role played by Sanyatwe in the ouster of former President Robert Mugabe.
The development, then becomes yet another indicator that for all the talk of a “Second Republic” or “New Dispensation” and such other romantic terms, we have not departed from the old politics entrenched by Mugabe. And, thus, there is no reason why the international community can really believe that Zimbabwe is open for business, when everyone can clearly see that the Zanu PF regime is pursuing Mugabe’s toxic political trajectory.
No doubt, walking the talk is critical in global politics where credibility is valued above all else.
It is against this backdrop – not necessarily based on professionalism, but the central role he probably played in Mugabe’s deposition – that Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Philip Valerio Sibanda could have seen it fit to recommend Sanyatwe for promotion.
Evidently, there is no way Mnangagwa would not have seen it fit, too, to promote the man who played such a crucial role in his rise to power. Just that seems enough to wipe away his role in the August 1 killings, notwithstanding public sentiments or questions likely to have been raised by the Motlanthe commission.
What Mnangagwa has done through this promotion is no different from spitting into the face of the COI.
In fact, it appears to confirm the widespread belief that, while Mnangagwa could have known the right thing to do, his hands were tied because it is the military from whose benevolence he benefitted that is in charge after all.
If Mnangagwa is really honest about having the global community embrace him and retain some of his dignity, it is essential that he starts to do things differently.
Thus far, he has not shown any inclination to create a new political culture.
What the Mnangagwa administration is saying is: whatever you think, we don’t care!