The election yesterday in Zimbabwe, the first one in 40 years without Robert Mugabe’s name on the ballot is a milestone on Zimbabwe’s road to recovery.
The November 2017 coup d’etat that brought down Mugabe was long overdue and may have saved the country from “Gucci” Grace’s greedy fangs as she stealthly tried to position herself to succeed her 94 year old husband, who by all accounts was beginning to lose his marbles.
Mugabe’s fall is a sad commentary on Africa’s so-called “Big Men” who insist on staying in power at all costs, and in Mugabe’s case it seems he wanted to take his rule to the grave, as his wife Grace consistently reminded Zimbabweans.
At one time a maverick freedom fighter and nationalist, after 37 years in power Mugabe left Zimbabwe, once Africa’s food basket a basket case, and sad to say the only sovereign country on the globe without its own national currency.
The land grabs from white farmers following Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980 were so misdirected and destroyed the country’s agricultural prowess as land was foolishly given to Mugabe’s cronies who had little or no experience in managing mega farms and industries.
It is too early to tell who won yesterday’s election. But this much is obvious: Emmerson Mnangagwa may be the most visible politician and best known, but he is not the solution to Zimbabwe’s ailments.
He is the new face of the the same old, corrupt, nepotistic regime that he and Robert Mugabe run, and not so well. The two men are responsible for so much suffering and abuse of human rights, especially in Matabeleland.
Mnangagwa was Mugabe’s Assistant for many years, and later his bodyguard. From 1982-1985, he was the powerful Minister of Security who was in charge of suppressing Joshua Nkomo and the Ndebele people, pursuing the vicious campaign called GUKURAHUNDI that resulted in the deaths of 20,000 people at the hands of the infamous North Korean-trained 5th Brigade.
Hard as he tries, Mnangagwa cannot escape his record. On March 3, 1983 at a rally at Victoria Falls, he delivered a threat, using language that would be echoed by the perpetrators of the genocide against Tutsi in 1994. Likening the dissidents to “cockroaches and bugs”, Mnangagwa said “ the bandit menace had reached such epidemic proportion that the government had to bring “DDT” to get rid of the bandits”.
Mnangagwa’s analogy was perfectly comprehensible to his audience. The cockroaches and bugs were supporters of Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), and more generally members of the Ndebele ethnic group. This crackdown, named GUKURAHUNDI — means in Shona, “the early rain that washes away the chaff.”
In 2008 Mnangagwa ran Mugabe’s campaign, orchestrating political violence against the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) headed by the late Morgan Tsvangirai who suffered un-told beatings and imprisonment. His vicious and brutal behavior earned him the nickname – The Crocodile.
Zimbabwe deserves better after 37 years of bad governance and a broken economy. This election is going to test, not only the army but Zimbabwe’s political maturity. Soldiers belong in the barracks, and should leave the business of running the country to civilians. The sooner the country goes back to constitutional rule the better.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, has served his country long enough. I am not sure so well. He might heed the Shona proverb;” Humility is more profitable than pride.” Step aside and give young blood a chance.