PARANOIA is spreading like wildfire in the corridors of power as evidenced by events this week.A press conference was held on Wednesday by the Working Committee of the National Security Council dismissing rumours of an imminent coup.
“The Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe has noted, with grave concern, a recent upsurge in rumours suggesting an imminent military coup d’état in the country,” Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe said. The minister, surrounded by security chiefs, said the government was taking the step to “unequivocally debunk and dismiss these rumours with the contempt they deserve”.
It was arguably the weirdest press conference ever witnessed in the country. The whole machinery of government was dismissing rumours of a coup to a stunned citizenry who had not heard of the rumour in the first place.
It would have been comical were it not tragic. It seems President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who came to power on the back of a coup, fears he could be ousted through guns and tanks — the Robert Mugabe way.
Mnangagwa has every reason to panic after failing dismally to deliver on his promises to citizens when he was sworn in as leader. Where he promised economic recovery, there has been widespread poverty amid price increases as inflation has decimated incomes and pensions.
Where he promised “Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!” that night in November 2017, there have been job losses with at least 210 000 workers thrown into the streets last year alone. Where he had promised new companies, foreign direct investment inflows have plummeted from US$717 million in 2018 to US$259 million last year. Where Mnangagwa promised democracy, any attempts to demonstrate — which is a right enshrined in the constitution — have been crushed ruthlessly by his murderous police and soldiers.
The promised international re-engagement has instead become a hotbed of confrontation, with Western capitals expressing dismay, particularly over the violation of human rights, including the abduction of opposition members, doctors and even comedians. Indeed, it is not difficult to see why the very mention of a coup unnerves Mnangagwa and his government.
The accusations levelled against the MDC-Alliance parliamentarian Job Sikhala and even men of the cloth by the government are testimony to a desperate quest to mask leadership failure. The press conference was a damning indictment on a clueless government which has promised plenty, but has delivered nothing.
Mnangagwa’s delusions were laid bare for all to see when he presented a speech to the Zanu PF politburo meeting on Wednesday. Addressing the ruling cabal, he blamed “political detractors, elite opportunists and malcontents” for the catastrophic free-fall of the Zimbabwe dollar and the resultant price increases of basic commodities. It is laughable that he apportions blame without looking at the real cause: his bankrupt policies.
The clueless government fixed the exchange rate at 1:25, in a move alienated from the realities on the streets, where the exchange rate is trading above ZW$70 to the United States dollar. That he expects businesses to maintain low prices while he unleashes havoc through chaotic policies that sabotage private enterprise is nothing short of preposterous.
In the realm of bizarre outbursts, his wild accusations are right up there with the very best of his mentor Mugabe who once claimed that nobody could have managed the economy better than him. As we all know, Mugabe presided over the most spectacular economic collapse of a country outside a war zone.
Mnangagwa cannot blame detractors today. He rushed into re-introducing the Zimdollar without first building a productive economy. It is not rocket science. Such measures are a recipe for disaster. His failure to learn from Mugabe’s ruinous tenure will ensure that history judges him harshly. Who would have ever thought there was anyone worse than good old Bob?
Mnangagwa has called for a day of national prayer and fasting on Sunday. Given his atrocious leadership, he needs it more than anyone else. Zimbabweans are already fasting involuntarily every day, thanks to his hunger-inducing policies.
The takeover of Morgan Tsvangirai House, headquarters of the MDC-Alliance, by the Thokozani Khupe-led MDC-T faction using police and soldiers on Thursday last week demonstrated the unholy tag team of Khupe and Mnangagwa. This follows a Supreme Court ruling that adjudged Khupe as leader of the party.
However, it is difficult to fathom how Khupe could ever be an effective opposition leader. She is a political nonentity as evidenced by her cringe-worthy 40 000 votes in the 2018 general election. Khupe is more of Mnangagwa’s poodle than a watchdog of any worth.
Compared to the more than two million votes MDC-Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa garnered in that election, it is obvious why Mnangagwa would prefer to have Khupe and company as the main opposition party rather than the MDC-Alliance. After all, Khupe is part of the Political Actors Dialogue, a bunch of hopeless wannabes whose glorious mission is to endlessly caress Mnangagwa’s ego.
The take-over using the state apparatus has weakened Khupe’s party and her hangers-on, among them Morgen Komichi and Douglas Mwonzora, who have deserted the MDC-Alliance. It has eluded Khupe and company that political relevance does not come from taking over a building, but from the mandate of the people.
The take-over, using security agents, has been severely criticised globally, and rightly so. It exposes not only Mnangagwa’s hollow claims that he is a democratic leader but also the shameful desperation for political legitimacy by Khupe, Mwonzora and Komichi.