CANDID COMMENT : Gumisai Nyoni
Not the conjured up images of legacy restoration witnessed in November 2017. Celebrating the beginning of 2021 tomorrow must significantly remind the political leadership in Zimbabwe that 2020 was a wasted year.
The government, after getting into power through a coup that sought to restore legacy, citing late former president Robert Mugabe’s failures, has hastily denigrated itself into a shameless top competitor among the world’s worst administrations.
Grotesquely characterised by paranoia, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has presided over a plethora of dubious decisions deliberately crafted to safeguard his throne, but ultimately destroying the legacy of his government as progressive and democratic.
His close associations with less democratic nations such as Belarus, Uganda and United Arab Emirates, among others, attest to his penchant for entrenching dictatorial tendencies. While Mugabe had become an unnecessary burden to Zimbabwe, his replacement is actually worse.
During Mugabe’s tenure, in the first decade of Independence, health and education were affordable to the majority. The agricultural sector, which formed the backbone of the national economy, was vibrant. The same applied to other sectors, including mining and industrial production, which all propelled the country’s remarkable economic success. These gains, unfortunately, were reversed by the economic structural adjustment programme, which, through privatisation, among other demands, rendered the majority workers poor. The fast-track land reform programme that commenced in 2000, worsened the already deteriorating situation, and up to today, the country has never fully recovered.
While Mnangagwa and his cabal received a thunderous welcome from Zimbabwe’s crippled citizens, the expected radical departure from Mugabe’s oppressive system of governance remains a pipedream. The new dispensation’s approach is rooted in, inter alia, intolerance, insensitivity to the plight of the poor, amassing wealth for personal aggrandisement, brutality, capture of critical institutions and unjustified incarcerations.
Sponsored projects such as the Political Actors’ Dialogue (Polad) have disgracefully contributed towards the silencing of democratic voices. For the love of money, not rebuilding the nation, losing presidential candidates in 2018 general elections joined the Polad bandwagon to line their pockets. This grouping of losers, rehearsing day and night to bootlick the winner of a disputed election, is useless and unnecessary.
Opportunists in the Zanu PF-led government are satisfied when their corrupt tendencies go unchallenged. After realising that anti-corruption bodies set up by the government are nothing more than a public relations exercise, the plundering of national resources is scaling up, while the country is sinking deeper into the abyss. And whistleblowers have no place in the kingdom of looters. Those who have tried it know full well that the new dispensation’s dirty tactics are more lethal than during Mugabe’s tenure. A legacy can only be restored by pragmatic policy shifts accompanied by noticeable change on all fronts — not through rhetoric and publicity stunts.