THERE is a vernacular saying that advises us that: Akuruma nzeve ndewako.
In simple English, this means whoever gives you friendly advice is on your side. And when a whole Head of State takes time to advise his counterpart, it means he is very well meaning and wishes the best for his friend.
So our President, on one of his many sojourns to foreign lands, was recently told by Rwandan President Paul Kagame that:
“You need to work hard to change the perception. You can’t bribe your way through. You can’t just sweet-talk some people and think, even if they say ‘ok, we agree with you’, things will be fine, no! You keep doing your best. The way people feel about how you govern will always come out and before you even convince anybody from outside, so that they don’t have wrong perception about you, convince your own people. Make sure they are with you.
Concentrate there on making sure your people are involved, they are benefitting and they can themselves push back on this story of wrong perception. That means it must be built on tangible things. If the country is hungry, if people have nothing to eat, they will tell people that they have nothing to eat.”
Kagame could not have said it any better because many a time, some of us have been labelled as anti to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s drive to make his new dispensation work.
We are very grateful that at least one of our very few well-meaning brothers on the continent has been strong enough to tell Mnangagwa what we have been telling him back here at home.
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Critical for Mnangagwa is for him to first convince his own people on the issue of his legitimacy, which half of those who voted in the last election in 2018 are disputing.
Instead of engaging those who are disputing his electoral victory, Mnangagwa has chosen to meet with inconsequential political figures who agree with his victory or seeking political relevance after a dismal performance at the polls. Many feel that Mnangagwa has too much pride, too much for his own good.
The second critical issue that Mnangagwa needs to sincerely talk to his people about is Gukurahundi, a phantom from the past which is currently threatening to divide the country in half because his efforts to clear this dark past have not been very convincing to say the least.
People from the Midlands and Matabeleland areas are bitter from the scars of the past and are not convinced that efforts made so far to erase that past blemish are sincere. And linked to these issues are the human rights abuse accusations that attracted sanctions the country is presently struggling to shake off.
We feel these are some of the main issues, and of course corruption, that Mnangagwa has been avoiding and skirting around that he needs to talk about to his fellow countryman because, as Kagame aptly put it, no amount of sweet-talking the outside world or strongman tactics to cow Zimbabweans into silent acquiescence will make his rule pleasant and acceptable.