RECENT statements by some senior officials in the new government have been very disappointing. The utterances are not only irrational, but are also counter-productive and retrogressive. The remarks are contrary to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s pronouncements in his inauguration speech last month.
Candid Comment,Faith Zaba
Mnangagwa spoke about building a new Zimbabwe in which all people — irrespective of race, colour, creed or sex — can assert fully their human worth after 37 years of former president Robert Mugabe’s misrule and repression. He stressed the need for implementing investor-friendly policies.
If anything, Mnangagwa must be wary of people who tarnish government’s image through misguided utterances.
Provincial Affairs minister for Masvingo Josiah Hungwe told a provincial co-ordinating committee meeting at the weekend that the new government would not hesitate to use the army during the forthcoming 2018 elections. Hungwe, who has in the past been dogged by controversy over blasphemous utterances, also revealed the reason why the military had stepped in to oust Mugabe and the G40 was because Mnangagwa and his Team Lacoste faction had failed.
Hungwe made headlines for comparing Mnangagwa to Jesus Christ in 2014 and Mugabe to God in 2015. Mnangagwa’s special advisor Chris Mutsvangwa also poisoned the environment this week when he said bringing up the Gukurahundi issue was “simply unhelpful” and “irresponsible”.
“Zimbabwe needs a break,” he told Al Jazeera. “To continuously re-dig its past, as if it cannot grasp the future .
. . it diverts energy away from what should be done. Every country followed a tortured history … You make mistakes.
You make false starts.”
To try and suppress such an episode during which more than 20 000 people perished in the Matabeleland and Midlands regions is heartless for a government promising a democratic beginning. Such personal opinions on Gukurahundi and the use of the army during election campaigns are detrimental to the credibility of new government.
The biggest threat to any government’s reputation is within itself, of course, through irrational statements of this nature that hardly add value to the current era. Aren’t they contradicting the President’s reconciliatory tone? The history of the army in Zimbabwe’s polls is heart-rending, thus a paradigm shift is quintessential.
Mutsvangwa cannot banish citizens from debating the Gukurahundi massacres. In fact, it’s irresponsible of him to try and sweep under the carpet human rights abuses, including others like “Operation Murambatsvina”.
It is irresponsible for someone instrumental in Mugabe’s removal to try and impose censorship on human rights abuse debate. Defending such atrocities does not translate into a new dispensation. After all, it should be Mugabe’s headache as the perpetrator, not Mutsvangwa. Also perplexing is the demand for compensation by war veterans for kicking Mugabe out. Saying war veterans must be rewarded is misplaced because Zimbabweans from diverse backgrounds played a part. War veterans and the army only finished off an ongoing process led by citizens, civil society, the opposition and media.