WHEN corrupt and hostile regimes engage in brainless political muscle-flexing to stifle and kill democratic spaces, they fight tooth and nail to defend against any form of criticism.
Despots are always aware that the crimes they commit against citizens represent the worst form of misrule and that these tend to come back and haunt them.
Test them by merely mentioning the words “dictatorship” or “despot”, and you attract an avalanche of vitriol from their defenders and enablers who seem determined to destroy nations for the benefit of a few.
It was not surprising really when Harare’s shameless spin doctors reacted angrily to a call by United States secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, at the weekend that Africa’s (not Zimbabwe specifically) dictators were holding citizens hostage.
Because President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime knows it’s transgressions, including the onslaught on opposition forces, his spin doctors didn’t take it lightly.
They felt exposed.
But we remind Mnangagwa that no amount of fancy vocabulary and defence will erase the fact that his government has abused its privileged position to block opposition gatherings, arrest journalists and used force to combat peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
These are the heartbeat of functioning democracies.
Such democratic norms must be firmly anchored by adherence to the rule of law to allow citizens to choose leaders of their choice and participate in political dialogue without fear of retribution.
Given what has been happening in this country, these rights are diminishing everyday and are under threat. Having an alternative view to those espoused by this corrupt and morally degenerate leadership tends to put one in mortal danger.
Their actions and assaults on democracy show that they have lost moral compass and the right to legitimacy.
Mnangagwa must live up to his promise to democratise Zimbabwe, if he is serious about achieving milestones in his over-hyped re-engagement campaign, and if he is serious about rebuilding the economy.
Arresting investigative journalists stifles democracy, caging opposition leaders and trade unionists violates their right to air their views and firing bullets on citizens to force them to keep quiet and suffer in silence is the height banditry.
In a sad day for democracy, 2018 poll loser, MDC-T acting leader Thokozani Khupe and 14 of her acolytes were sworn in as MPs last week to replace MDC Alliance legislators, yes, the ones who were actually elected by voters.
A cabal of losers is being imposed on voters, at the behest of Mnangagwa.
The elites are saying it doesn’t matter who you voted for, the power to install MPs lies elsewhere.
This definitely is not democracy by any definition.