IT appears that in Zimbabwe, despite the change of guard which ushered in the so-called new dispensation, nothing has changed on the ground, we are still steeped in Mugabeism.
It seems the ruling party and government, since the two are conflated, haven’t learnt anything from past mistakes, or they are not the reformists they so eloquently bragged to the world after the ouster of the late former President Robert Mugabe. Why do we say so?
When President Emmerson Mnangagwa took over from Mugabe in the infamous November 2017 coup, he made grand promises, one of which was his administration would not be a replica of the old regime as it was committed to re-engaging the international community, particularly the West.
Somehow, Mnangagwa had managed to convince all the doubting Thomases that he was the reformer that this country badly needed. Or we were naïve, as recent pronouncements by ruling party hardliners seem to indicate the opposite. In the end, it would appear Mnangagwa just wanted to deceive the world into accepting him to sanitise the coup against his former mentor.
He struck the right chords — pledging to reform the administration and opening up the democratic space. But little did the world know that this would be shortlived as the leopard would soon show its true colours.
Conflicting signals have started coming from both the ruling party and government.
While Mnangagwa and his Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo on State occasions preach reconciliation and re-engagement with the West, Zanu PF officials on the other hand appear hell bent on escalating hostilities with pretty much everyone who disagrees with them.
Early this week, the party threatened to further muzzle the opposition and civic society organisations to force the West to lift its sanctions on Zimbabwe.
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In recent weeks, the country has witnessed top ruling party officials outdoing each other in spewing anti-West vitriol, effectively negating the re-engagement drive, with United States ambassador Brian Nichols called all sorts of names for calling out government for rights abuses and corruption.
Zanu PF acting spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa on Wednesday deepened the anti-West stance as he threatened to close the democratic space even in the face of more stringent sanctions.
One would be forgiven to conclude that the government has abandoned its re-engagement drive, judging from the public outbursts against the US, European Union and Britian by top ruling Zanu PF officials. Certainly, the party has relapsed into Mugabe’s mode of exchanging vitriols with the West which does not do the country any good.
What seems to escape Zanu PF officials is that the man in the street is not interested in anti-West rhetoric, the citizenry wants to see the implementation of a raft of reforms which are cited by the West as preconditions for the removal of the sanctions.
The sanctions must be lifted, we contend, but the onus is on government to ensure this happens with speed because Zimbabweans deserve better.