“The high-handedness, coming when President Emmerson Mnangagwa is telling the world . . . that the Zimbabwean government has committed to upholding constitutionalism, is a bad advert for the country . . .The history of Zimbabwe is tainted by Zanu PF’s primitive attempts to muzzle the democratic opposition.”
MUCKRAKER Twitter: @MuckrakerZim
The more things change, the more they stay the same. We were reminded of this saying when the police unlawfully prevented the holding of an MDC Alliance rally in Glen View last weekend.
This high-handedness, coming when President Emmerson Mnangagwa is telling the world at Davos that the Zimbabwean government has committed to upholding constitutionalism, is a bad advert for the country.
The international community is not fooled by the glitzy “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” publicity videos being played on CNN; it is the banning of opposition meetings that will show the world the true colours of the “reformist” regime.
The history of Zimbabwe is a sad tale of Zanu PF’s primitive attempts to muzzle the democratic opposition.
How do opposition parties unpack their election manifestos to the public when the playing field is badly skewed in favour of Zanu PF?
The authoritarian system, which kept former Robert Mugabe in power for 37 years, appears to be the only way the ruling party can continue clinging on to power, even amid economic catastrophe caused by failed leadership.
If Zanu PF is certain it is popular among the masses, why should it be afraid of other political parties? Are elections not the bedrock of a democratic dispensation the country is yearning for after decades of reeling under the yoke of tyranny?
The whole fiasco suggests that the only new things in government are the figureheads shepherding the flock, while the pastures remain as barren as before?
What Zimbabweans clearly want is freedom to express their views without fear of police harassment. After all, Mnangagwa said, on his way to Switzerland this week, that he was going to uphold the rule of law and respect human rights.
This sounds like lipstick politics meant to conjure up a false image of political tolerance, when in fact, such amity does not exist. There is need to foster a progressive culture, rooted in diversity and pluralism.
A healthy democracy can never be achieved when a government institutes policies targeted at institutionalising one-party “stateism”.
Mnangagwa and his cronies must get legitimacy from the people through elections that are supposed to be held this year, and this only sounds sensible when opposition parties freely hold rallies, advertise themselves in state-controlled media outlets, while the “new” police force should desist from selectively applying the law — a scourge that was rife during the Mugabe era. Monopolising the electoral playing field is, ipso facto, the direct antithesis of democracy.
Muckraker subscribes to mulpartyism with democracy, not plurality without diversity. That way, Zimbabwe can prosper again. A government must not be immune to criticism; hence the need for checks and balances which enable citizens to probe those in power.
When Mnangagwa and the military wanted to get rid of Mugabe they invited the masses. Those who had not seen a tank or soldiers at work were freely accorded the opportunity.
Up to today the pictures of soldiers marching in solidarity with the people are being used to sell the idea that the army and the people of Zimbabwe are one.
How does Local Government minister July Moyo quickly forget that he is occupying a seat in the upper echelons of power partly because of the efforts of street vendors who vigorously supported the anti-Mugabe cause?
“To the vendors who are operating at undesignated sites, including in front of shops and to unregistered public transporters, you are directed to cease forthwith your activities within the next 48 hours, failure of which you have no one, but yourselves to blame. I have contacted, before this press conference, the Vice-President General Constantino Chiwenga to inform him about this statement I am issuing and to seek his assistance so that security agencies can work with the municipalities, town councils, so that we can put to rest this menace that is facing us,” he said ominously at a press conference last week.
Does the country need soldiers to open fire on suffering citizens because they have been forced into informal employment as a result of industrial closures that led to massive joblessness due to the cluelessness of the Zanu PF regime? Why can’t these ministers, who live large when others are languishing in poverty, widen their scope and at least comprehend that vending is not an art but a struggle for survival in a dilapidated economy?
Who does not want a white collar job? Who can shun industrial employment when it is offered? That a whole minister believes that soldiers can be deployed to suffocate the screaming voices of vendors suggests that this so-called new dispensation is nothing but a mirage. The first and critical move that government needs to implement, without delay, is the creation of employment.
Mnangagwa, at his swearing-in ceremony, said he will deliver jobs, jobs, jobs — this is exactly what will drive away vendors from the streets — not teargas, water cannons, guns and bullets.
Such hardliners as Moyo should stay clear of government. The excitable Moyo should know that they are very much a government under probation and threatening vendors is no way to pass a litmus test.
The so-called new dispensation might result in a lot of change but there are some things that never change.
Among the constants are the rose-tinted glasses Zimstat wears when revealing the level of unemployment in the country.
Zimstat has released shocking figures that the unemployment rate for 2017 was 6,62%. This is despite continued company closures and massive job losses that characterised the previous year. We will not even mention the destitution of most Zimbabweans who have resorted to selling maize cobs and airtime.
The findings are an insult to Zimbabweans, most of whom have never led a decent life due to the scarcity of jobs. Muckraker is not surprised by Zimstat’s fake statistics. Zimstat was last year forced to grovel an apology to the Zimbabwe Republic Police for cooked up figures on road accidents. Cooked up figures, it seems, is a way of life for Zimstat.
It is scandalous that the statistical agency wastes resources in coming up with such claptrap. Do these statisticians know what is happening on the ground or their heads are firmly stuck in the clouds?
Is the Davos jamboree another utopian fantasy?
The excitement over Mnangagwa’s inaugural trip to the World Economic Forum has understandably sparked a lot of excitement countrywide.
Some have even gone to the extent of saying that the visit will herald an immediate economic turnaround, with one state-owned daily proclaiming on its posters yesterday that Mnangagwa had “conquered the world”.
Who is Muckracker to temper people’s right to indulge in fantasy?
The delegation that went to Davos, Switzerland, is far smaller than the large entourages former president Robert Mugabe would take on trips. While we applaud this, the names on the list leave a lot to be desired and do not inspire confidence. The list is filled with ministers’ aides and officials from Mnangagwa’s office. One would assume from the delegation list that they have travelled for lessons in protocol and security instead of hobnobbing with the global financial giants and world leaders.
The list, when compared with South Africa’s delegation which comprises business leaders such as chief executives of large corporates is nothing short of embarrassing. Mnangagwa has claimed that “billions” have been brought into the country. Where are these billions of dollars?
Unless and until there is a breakdown of how much has come in and from which sectors, we will take the President’s rhetoric with a whole bag of salt.