Photo: Zimbabwe’s new president Emmerson Mnangagwa (left) with finance minister Patrick Chinamasa (right), who held that portfolio also under former President Mugabe. Credit: - Photo: 2017

Sparkle of Hope Fast Disappearing in Post-Mugabe Era

By Jeffrey Moyo

HARARE (IDN) – When Robert Mugabe resigned late November as president of Zimbabwe, hopes were rekindled that the country would finally be set on the course of a fresh start after 37 years of widely criticised authoritarian rule of this Southern Africa nation.

For years, under Mugabe’s regime, the Southern African nation’s state security apparatus dominated the country and was responsible for widespread human rights violations, with Mugabe maintaining the revolutionary socialist rhetoric of the Cold War era, blaming Zimbabwe’s economic woes on conspiring Western capitalist countries.

Under Mugabe’s rule, the country had also been in economic decline since the 1990s, experiencing several crashes and hyperinflation along the way.

Zimbabwe has been grappling with cash deficits since April 2016, largely due to externalisation and the hoarding of money, with reports suggesting that an estimated three billion dollars had been externalised to places like Mauritius, the Far East and Botswana between 2015 and 2017.

Now, less than one month after his resignation and following the appointment of Emmerson Mnangagwa as the country’s new president, hopes for the future are fast disappearing and alarm bells are already beginning to sound.

What has happened “is just endorsement of a successful coup against Mugabe,” Professor Lovemore Madhuku, Zimbabwe’s renowned constitutional law expert and lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, told IDN. “Only Mugabe has left while everything else remains with us.”

Take a look at Mnangagwa’s new cabinet,” said Rashweat Mukundu, former head of the Media Institute of Southern Africa in Zimbabwe, talking with IDN. “It’s the recycling of the Mugabe era ministers … reforms will be slow and the new president has limited space to manoeuvre as the military is in control now which means Zimbabwe may slowly become a military state with a civilian face.”

For Artwell Chikomo, a 32-year-old university graduate who holds a degree in sociology, “we celebrated too early that Mnangagwa would be the saviour of this country only to realise now that he is merely the redeemer of his own governing party colleagues and the army guys who helped him seize Mugabe’s job.”

President Mnangagwa has named a new cabinet made up of both new and old political faces, with some coming from the military that helped to remove Mugabe from power.

“The government led by Mr Mnangagwa had won many hearts as soon as it was announced that he was replacing former President Mugabe, more so after he had made pledges to work with the rest of the world and re-engage with the Western nations that had imposed sanctions on Mr Mugabe’s government,” Malvin Mukudu, an independent political analyst based in the Zimbabwean capital, told IDN.

“But after announcing his cabinet including military guys who helped him take power from Mugabe, the opposition found something to use against him in their campaign for polls next year.”

Indeed, for Zimbabwe’s main opposition political party, the Movement for Democratic Change Party led by Morgan Tsvangirai, former Prime Minister in the country’s previous unity government, it almost seemed that all hope to win the people’s hearts disappeared when President Mnangagwa took over the reins of power.

With the arrival of the new government headed by Mnangagwa, local human rights defenders have upped the game against the country’s ruling party which they accuse of rights abuses.

Many rights activists like Owen Dhliwayo, programmes officer of the Youth Dialogue Action Network, see the war against Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party continuing even though the party has dropped Mugabe’s leadership.

“What is occurring here now is not the end and we have not yet come to the end of the struggle for change,” Dhliwayo told IDN. “This stage is a transition under the domination of the defence forces. One day civilian rule will prevail, not in the too distant future, the defence forces will preside over a democratic process towards the restoration of civilian rule in Zimbabwe,”

However, Mlondolozi Ndlovu, studying for a Master’s degree in international relations at Zimbabwe’s Midlands State University, believed that “the resignation of former President Mugabe provides Zimbabwe with a chance to map a new path free of the harassment that characterised the aged president’s rule.”

With Mugabe removed from the country’s political scene, Ndlovu also said a new path opens for the country’s opposition political parties as they battle for a chance to lead this Southern African nation.

“What the opposition should now be doing is to utilise this chance created by Mugabe’s departure to try and mobilise as well as lobby for the introduction of a more democratic dispensation,” Ndlovu told IDN.

“Mugabe projected tendencies of autocracy and subsequently infringed on even basic human rights while he superintended over high level kleptocracy in his country, moves which turned him into an anathema to his colleagues even in Southern Africa.

“He also made himself an enemy of the Western developed countries by his continued hostility towards the Western nations and his fall from power never drew much sympathy from either Africa or abroad,” Ndlovu told IDN.

With ordinary Zimbabweans now soldiering on with life’s challenges after their new President appointed his colleagues to his new cabinet, analysts are unsure what awaits the new government.

“Whether or not Mnangagwa will bring change here remains to be seen. But politicians rarely change,” Tonderai Dombo, an independent political analyst and a Master’s degree student in international relations at the University of Zimbabwe, told IDN.

“What is different in Zimbabwe today is that ordinary people are waking up to the reality that they have the power to change things.”

According to Ijabla Raymond, a UK-based Nigerian medical doctor who also writes about prevailing societal issues including religion, politics and human rights, the chances are slim that Mnangagwa’s new regime will transform people’s lives.

“I do not believe that the lot of ordinary Zimbabweans will be much different under the new regime,” said Raymond. [IDN-InDepthNews – 11 December 2017]

Photo: Zimbabwe’s new president Emmerson Mnangagwa (left) with finance minister Patrick Chinamasa (right), who held that portfolio also under former President Mugabe. Credit:

IDN is the flagship agency of International Press Syndicate. –

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