WHEN President Emmerson Mnangagwa assumed the reins of power via a military coup in November of 2017, he was definitive in urging his supporters not to continue their lamentations about sanctions.
Mnangagwa presented himself as someone with a clear sanctions-busting plan and that he was the pragmatist Zimbabwe had been waiting for. Hence, through his good deeds, the punitive measures were soon to be a thing of the past.
Four years down the line, there is nothing to write home about and Mnangagwa, with the aid of yapping loyalists, has made a sensational somersault, blaming everything wrong with the country on sanctions.
What is worrying, however, is the selective amnesia on what brought about the sanctions in the first place. Yes, years after the fall of the late former President Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa’s carefully scripted path to the highest office in the land has come to fruition.
Mnangagwa is aware of what needs to be done, what he must do. He also knows that there is no justification for continued human rights abuses, arbitrary arrest of those that differs with him or turning the police into Zanu PF lap dogs.
The President well knows that implementing the 2013 Constitution in full is key to the removal of sanctions and not butchering the national charter as happened with the Chief Justice Luke Malaba issue, creating a crisis where there was none.
The justification of violence even in the presence of the United Nations special rapporteur is brazen and thoughtless.
After nearly two years of severe repression and watching Mnangagwa trying to decimate opposition MDC Alliance under the guise of enforcing COVID-19 regulations, it is possible that Nelson Chamisa simply picked the moment to highlight the situation to everyone who is not Zanu PF.
Yes, Zimbabweans live in two different spheres: those under Zanu PF and Mnangagwa’s chosen opposition led by Douglas Mwonzora and his ilk; those who can hold parties, mix, meet, campaign, hold internal elections, amid COVID-19 regulations and all. Then there’s the rest of Zimbabweans; the ones who face the selective wrath of the law if they are suspected of breaking the regulations, cannot protest injustices and whose freedoms depend on patronage of Zanu PF’s Dear Leader. Lord help them if they are members of the opposition, as the case of Harare West legislator, Joanah Mamombe and her fellow MDC Alliance activists illustrate.
Zanu PF fell for it and its confusion is apparent in the attempts by its various officials — notably its director of information and publicity Tafadzwa Mugwadi, acting commissar Patrick Chinamasa and Information secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana to explain away the recent attacks on Chamisa and his team by ruling party supporters in Masvingo.
Mnangagwa and many in the Zanu PF leadership were part of the late former President Robert Mugabe’s repressive machinery, the ruling elite, and it’s apparent that the same violent tendencies that defined Mugabe’s rule are very much part of its fabric even now.
Perhaps Mugabe was overrated — Mnangagwa was the main operator behind the throne.
The bloody campaigns anchored on terror, intimidation, killings and torture against suspected opposition supporters, a well-co-ordinated and choreographed power retention strategy, that worked mainly in rural areas since the birth of the MDC in 1999, is back.
The visit of the UN special rapporteur will do nothing to aid the removal of sanctions until Zanu PF abandons its damaging path of gross human rights violations. The ruling party cannot continue abusing people and expect everyone to be okay with it.
To those in Zanu PF, pay heed: Mnangagwa and his ilk should reform their ways and their actions, and no doubt sanctions will go.