By Darlington Nyambiya.
After 37 years of Mugabe’s rule, Zimbabwe finally had a forced transition through a mixture of people power, political pressure and military intervention. The forced transition gave birth to the new Mnangagwa administration which has promised to hit the ground running and combine politics with economics.
President Mnangagwa has even promised a new era full of democracy and economic progress. Most Zimbabweans upon hearing this political rhetoric have gone into overdrive and have said the new Mnangagwa administration deserves a chance to proof itself. But the question remains; is this the dawn of a new era or is this a false dawn?
Weak Democratic Foundation
In the early hours of the 15th of November 2017, the nation of Zimbabwe woke up to a television broadcast from the then Major General Sibusiso Moyo stating that the army had intervened to protect President Mugabe from criminals that were surrounding him and reiterated that it was not a coup as the Government was still in control. On prima facie, most Zimbabweans were suspicious of the Army’s involvement in civilian matters.
But as the days have passed during the early days of the new Mnangagwa Administration; people’s suspicions have been confirmed, as Government has only targeted members of the G40 faction of Zanu PF. While members of the Lacoste faction who have amassed wealth in suspicious circumstances have not been touched but have been given powerful positions in both the ruling party and Government.
This has confirmed to most Zimbabweans that President Mnangagwa has sold Zimbabweans a false dawn of a new era because his Lacoste faction leveraged on its close relationship with the military to outmuscle G40 and former President Mugabe from power. More importantly, President Mnangagwa’s coming to power was not about bringing democracy to Zimbabwe but was about consolidation of power within Zanu PF and restoring war veterans as the vanguards of the ruling party.
Internal Ruling Party Democracy
The old Zanu PF constitution permitted the provinces to elect the top four positions, but this was amended to allow presidential appointments when G40 combined with Lacoste to bootout the Gamatox faction then led by former Vice President Joice Mujuru. One would have thought that charity begins at home and if President Mnangagwa was indeed sincere about walking the talk, he would have pushed for internal party democracy.
And in line with President Mnangagwa’s inaugural speech, were he promised a Zimbabwe full of democracy, one would also have expected him to lobby for the ruling party to return to the ethos of the liberation struggle which was fought on the basis of one man one vote. This would have allowed internal party democracy to thrive under the leadership of Mnangagwa. And permit constant renewal of leadership that underpins generation of new ideas for the party and country.
If President Mnangagwa cannot allow internal party democracy to thrive when he already has an upper hand were ruling party members are likely to elect people he recommends, how then can Zimbabweans expect President Mnangagwa and Zanu PF to create a conducive environment for democracy to grow and take roots in the nation?
How can Zimbabweans expect the new Mnangagwa Administration to conduct free, fair and credible elections when democracy is stifled in Zanu PF and replaced with appointments and endorsements?
The fact is even after Mugabe is gone, Zanu PF remains the same and will not allow democracy to thrive in both the ruling party and Zimbabwe. This resistance to change by Zanu PF points to the fact that the nation has been sold a false dawn of a new era.
Vision: $100 billion-dollar economy
President Mnangagwa’s first State of the Nation Address had good pointers and the political rhetoric was in tune with the short-term goals of the nation. It was a welcome development to hear the president reveal that he had tasked his ministers to come up with 100-day impact plans. And that his new Administration would focus on economics, economics and economics. Finance Minister Chinamasa also hit the right cords with the budget presentation which was mainly anchored on austerity measures.
However, both President Mnangagwa’s State of the Nation Address and Chinamasa’s budget lacked well-grounded plans for both medium and long term. Chinamasa could be forgiven that his budget focused on next year but President Mnangagwa could have corrected this anomaly and presented the country with a long-term vision of how Zimbabwe could build a $100 billion-dollar economy within the next 20 years.
This was the same old Zanu PF that we have known for the past 37 years that concentrates on short term planning from 100 days plans to annual budgets but forgets that the world’s most successful nations were built through a combination of short, medium and long-term planning. President Mnangagwa’s era is a false dawn of a new era were the same mistakes are revisiting us again.
Zanu PF’s Democratic Intentions
Although the leader of the war veterans and presidential advisor, Chris Mutsvangwa later denied it, but he was quoted saying the Army would render its support to Zanu PF in the upcoming 2018 elections. And the recent appointment of retired General Chiwenga as Vice President has not instilled confidence in Zimbabwe’s fragile democracy.
More importantly, retired Lieutenant General Engelbert Rugeje was also appointed as political commissar of Zanu PF. The political commissar in Zanu PF is the chief organiser of the party and is responsible for the election campaign of the party. The appoint of a political commissar with a tainted past has sent shivers across the political divide on the intentions of the ruling party in line with the 2018 elections.
Mutsvangwa’s statement, Chiwenga’s ascendancy and Rugeje’s appointment have eroded the confidence that most Zimbabweans had of a free, fair and credible election in 2018. It reveals a ruling party that has changed its colours but remained the same inside. Based on the above, the evidence points to a Zanu PF that is likely to rely on a strong-arm strategy and smart rigging tactics to win next year’s elections. This again points to a false dawn of a new era under the new Mnangagwa Administration were stone age tactics are likely to be used for next year’s elections.
The outcry amongst Zimbabweans was the recycling of deadwood from the previous Mugabe Administration. Although Mnangagwa has limited talent from the current crop of Zanu PF MPs’, he could have utilised his five options to appoint five ministers with impeccable credentials in business and the academia.
Central to this outcry was the reappointment of Patrick Chinamasa as Finance Minister, because in the past he has shown that he does not possess the acumen of a diplomat to negotiate the best financial deals and the wisdom of an economist to navigate the economic challenges the nation is facing.
The appointment of a leading economist or prominent banker with impeccable credentials as Finance Minister would have given the country the much-needed business and consumer confidence in the economy. Investors, economic partners and creditors would have renewed confidence in partnering with Zimbabwe.
Chinamasa’s track record, however, makes it impossible for new mutually beneficial relationships. The President could have also utilised his other four options to appoint fresh faces to business and service ministries.
This recycling of deadwood points to a false dawn of a new era under the new Mnangagwa Administration.
South Africa Visit
President Mnangagwa’s first official trip to South Africa was portrayed as successful, largely because thousands of people attended his business meeting. Although Mnangagwa assured the business community that his new administration would respect the rule of law and property rights, he went on to tell the audience that he was a soldier. Thinking that the audience liked what he said, he told them that in his new Administration once he gave instructions, they had to be heeded religiously.
Is this not dictatorship, Mr President?
In as much as it sounds good that the new Mnangagwa Administration will move in one direction and focus on the issues at hand, the downside of it is that it does not have checks and balances. In a true democracy, Cabinet must debate on issues and come up with the best solutions. That means once a solution is agreed on, Cabinet moves in one direction as a collective. This statement by Mnangagwa reminds one of the previous Administration in which Mugabe was the alpha and omega of all critical decisions. This dictatorship tendency again points to a false dawn of a new era under the new Mnangagwa Administration.
It is clear as night and day that Zimbabwe is not in the dawn of a new era, full of democracy and economic progress, but that the country has endured a false dawn where things will, at best, remain stagnant and at worst be a move from the frying pan into fire.
The previous Mugabe Administration mastered the art of political rhetoric that resonated, maybe well, with the nation’s needs and aspirations but failed to walk the talk.
The new Mnangagwa Administration is following in the same footsteps of the previous administration by picking up the same traits. The new Administration has also resonated well with the people, but its democratic intentions are suspicions, and its economic planning is short sighted, with internal party democracy stifled. It also has a weak democratic foundation, has recycled deadwood and dictatorship is rearing its ugly head again.
In the end, even though most people deny it and the new buzz words are; let’s give the New Mnangagwa administration a chance, it is evident that Zimbabweans have been sold old wine in new bottles.
More like putting lipstick on a pig, this is the beginning of a false down of new era.
It’s not yet Uhuru, a truly democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe is near yet so far!!!
The Writer: Darlington Nyambiya is the President of the Local Solutions Council (LSC) , a leading Zimbabwe Think Tank. The LSC is a Think Tank with members from diverse Zimbabwean communities in politics, business, religion and sports. He is also a Pro-Democracy Activist, Political Strategist, Human Rights Defender, Social Media Commentator, Writer and a Business Executive. Contact Details ; Skype ID : darlington.nyambiya , Twitter handle: D_Nyambiya, Email :firstname.lastname@example.org , Corporate Twitter Handle : lsc_thinktank For more information on Strategic Views on Zimbabwe log onto our website on :Website :www.localsolutionscouncil.com. Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved. The Article may not be published or reproduced in any form without prior written permission