Leadership crisis puts Zim on international radar, again

editorial comment

ZIMBABWE finds herself the subject of international focus again, and not because of how the novel coronavirus is devastating its fragile economy, overwhelming its creaking health system and demoralised frontline workers, but because of its leadership which appears hellbent on dragging back the country back to the feudal system.

So bad has the situation deteriorated in the country that United Nations Secretary General António Guterres was he was watching developments in the country with keen interest. “He urges the government of Zimbabwe to ensure the protection of all fundamental human rights, notably the freedom of opinion and expression and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association,” a statement from Guterres’ office reads.

The administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa is waging war on its citizens and it’s not being subtle about it. Army trucks filled with armed soldiers are everywhere, they have become a daily staple and assaults of citizens have become common. But you cannot fool all the people all the time. Neighbouring South Africa said it was concerned by reports of rights violations in its neighbour so much so that on Thursday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that he had appointed two new special envoys to Zimbabwe — ANC stalwarts and veteran politicians Sydney Mufamadi and Baleka Mbete.

It is now an open secret that the Mnangagwa administration has proved clueless despite all the verbose talk on how to ensure a true economic rebound for the country as was highly anticipated following the removal of his predecessor, the late Robert Mugabe from power in November 2017 by his military chiefs in a coup.

The country’s leadership should be aware by now that no country can make it alone, because this has really proved true. This is the time to set
aside all the rhetoric about undefined “dark forces” and “enemies within and without” and see friends and partners instead who can play a critical role in resolving Zimbabwe’s debilitating crisis.

Right now, the majority of Zimbabweans do not care about the power matrix at the top. All they are longing and asking for is a normal country where people can live decently, take care of their families, access affordable medical care and housing, rather than who is in power.

This is the time to set pride aside and allow fellow comrades concerned about Zimbabwe as a neighbour to chip in and assist. That is what decent and genuine leadership is all about, not the selfishness of brazenly going at it alone in a power-as-an-end-in-itself crusade. Consolidation of power should be the last thing now. What is more urgent is the need to deal with pressing humanitarian needs, police and military brutality as well as corruption that remains a major bane over the economy.

We cannot talk of “dark forces” when we have not even made an effort to deliver on the electoral promises made to the population during the run-up to the controversial elections that ostensibly rubber-stamped the November 2017 coup.

Indeed, the situation in Zimbabwe is a concern to the entire region because if things continue as they are, more and more people will start fleeing to these neighbouring countries in search of respite from misfortune’s roll call. We cannot continue down this path, it is unacceptable.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa must take this opportunity to do the decent thing and ensure that the country is put back on the path to socio-economic recovery. But then, if anything, Mnangagwa has shown in the short time he has been Zimbabwe’s First Citizen that he is a lesson in how not to lead.

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