DIPLOMATS attached to Zimbabwe from Sadc, African Union (AU), Europe and Asia are highly disappointed and concerned about the course Zimbabwe has taken under the leadership of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took power in a military coup two years ago.
Mnangagwa, having benefitted from the coup that toppled the late Robert Mugabe, promised to re-organise Zimbabwe into a state in which human rights and freedoms are respected. He also pledged to lead the country to economic rejuvenation.
However, the country has taken a step backwards, where human rights violations are rampant while the economy is in a tailspin.
The international community, which was optimistic of positive changes in Zimbabwe, is disappointed with the way things have turned out.
Diplomats from Sadc, in off-the-record briefings with the Zimbabwe Independent this week, said the region has been greatly disappointed by the Mnangagwa administration’s failure to walk the talk on reform.
“Despite supporting the anti-sanctions march, the sentiment in the Sadc region is that Mnangagwa could have done better. Had he really ushered in reforms, the situation would have been better,” a diplomat said.
The diplomats also said the region had pinned its hopes on Mnangagwa to end the economic and political crisis in the country, which has resulted in refugees flocking to countries in the region.
Diplomats from Asia, the European Union and the United States also expressed displeasure at the way the Mnangagwa administration has presided over the affairs of the state.
Disappointments also came from the fact that Mnangagwa has failed many tests, including the failure to implement the recommendations of a commission of inquiry led by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe into the shooting of protesters on August 1 2018, which met global condemnation.
One of the recommendations was to bring to book members of the security sector responsible for the killing of six unarmed civilians, but that has not happened, more than a year after the shootings.
The security forces have continued brutalising citizens, with 17 more killings occurring in January this year, as the country saw more abductions of activists by suspected members of the security sector.
Mnangagwa is also accused of not showing serious commitment to fighting high-level corruption.“It’s worrisome and the Mnangagwa administration is not showing signs of reform. We are worried about the way business is being conducted, including policy inconsistencies which are affecting investments. The companies from our countries that have invested in Zimbabwe are being affected by this,” another diplomatic source said.
As a sign of goodwill, the European Union had begun engaging in formal dialogue with Harare as part of steps to encourage the government.An EU diplomat, however, said most members of the bloc were disappointed by the snail’s pace in the implementation of reforms.
Britain, on the other hand, had even assisted the country to access a loan facility totalling US$100 million with Standard Chartered Bank as a sign of goodwill. British officials feel extremely let down by the government.
The British believed in “change from within with a hardliner who is pro-reform”, but are seeing “a hardliner who is anti-reform”, another Western diplomat said.
The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a tweet this week, said: “The US is deeply committed to the people of #Zimbabwe. Amb. (Brian) Nichols set the record straight that culpability for Zimbabwe’s dire economic situation rests with its leaders, provided the truth about sanctions, and reiterated our strong and lasting commitment to a free and open Zimbabwe.”