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Full Text: Testimony of Peter Godwin before US Senate Foreign Relations Committee

“Zimbabwe’s Future – the State of Governance after Military Intervention.”

Statement by Peter Godwin

Just before dawn on November 14th, General Sibusiso Moyo of the Zimbabwe National Army went onto state television to announce that Robert Mugabe, was under house arrest. His 37-year reign, Zimbabwe’s only leader since independence in 1980, was over.

Peter Godwin before US Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Peter Godwin before US Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Zimbabweans soon poured out into the streets to celebrate. Mugabe had been unseated by internal faction fighting within his ruling ZanuPF party. It wasn’t primarily ideological or ethnic, it was a family feud on steroids, it pitted old against young. His wife Grace made a bid to succeed him.

Forty-one years his junior – she was too young to have fought in the liberation war, hitherto a sine qua non for leadership of southern African liberation parties. Her attempt to create a dynastic succession, a la Evita Peron, Imelda Marcos (with whom she shared a penchant for shoes, favoring Ferragamo because her feet were “too narrow for anything else”), or Madam Mao, proved premature, and it triggered her husband’s political demise.

Over those years Mugabe had hollowed out ZanuPF, reducing it to a personality cult by getting rid of anyone who challenged his authority, until he was attended only by fawning party punkah wallahs, fanning his ego, prancing around in ludicrous regalia bearing his image, as though he were a religion. Ultimately Grace over-reached when she persuaded her increasingly enfeebled husband to fire vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, her main rival.

This was too much for the military leadership who had close ties to Mnangagwa, as he held defense and intelligence portfolios for much of his ministerial career. I think you can expect Mnangagwa to be strongly in hock to the military who, after all, elevated him to the presidency. In the end, this was a ‘continuity coup’, to protect the power of the party’s old guard.

General Sibusiso Moyo, who announced the coup, is the new foreign minister, the country’s official interlocutor with the world. Air Marshal Perrance Shiri is elevated to the cabinet too. He was the officer commanding 5th Brigade at the time of the Matabeleland massacres, in the early 1980s. And it’s speculated that General Constantino Chiwenga, head of the Zimbabwe National Army, and architect of the coup, may be named vice president.

Even if not, he will continue to be the power behind the throne, the king-maker. The veterans of the Liberation war for independence are once again ascendant too. Their leader, Chris Mutsvangwa, has been named as special advisor to the new president. Last time the war vets made their weight felt, Mugabe had to buy them off with ex gratia payments.

Unbudgeted for, these payments cascaded through the economy resulting in the highest hyper-inflation the world has ever seen. By the end the Zimbabwe dollar was almost halving in value every 24 hours. What are we to make of the new President?

You should expect Mnangagwa to entice his own people and the world with a ‘reformist stance’. He will try to rebrand the party, presenting it as ZanuPF 2.0, ZanuPF-lite, non-ideological, technocratic, managerial, open for business, safe once more for foreign investors. He has already mentioned a partial return of land to some white commercial farmers, he has embraced the rhetoric of anti-corruption, offering a three-month amnesty window to return ill-gotten gains.

But these promises don’t stand up to scrutiny. What, for example, of his own corruption, and that of many of his new cabinet – 8 of the 22 are on US sanctions list – joined by bonds of massively corrupt self enrichment, and repressive political violence? For them to put distance between who they now purport to be, and their nearly four-decade record in office, is preposterous.

And for Zimbabweans both within the country and in the diaspora, as well as the international community, to believe this, is to fall for a ZanuPF confidence trick, a survival bait-and-switch. ZanuPF has long been a vampiric entity, sucking the blood from the nation. Mnangagwa is 75 years-old. He is most unlikely undergo a benign metamorphosis. He has been at the very center of ZanuPF’s repressive security web, until recently Mugabe’s trusted consiglieri.

He headed the feared Central Intelligence Organization, the CIO, at the time of the Matabeleland massacre, during which upwards of 20,000 civilians were killed. And he rolled out the terrible reprisal campaign during the post-election violence of 2008, when thousands of opposition supporters were badly tortured and more than 200 killed.

All of these and more besides, were carried out by this same political party, kleptocratic, violent, repressive. What are the alternatives for Zimbabweans in the 2018 elections? You have before you today a senior member of the main opposition party, the MDC, so I will defer to him to summarize his own party’s current status. However, in general, Zimbabwe’s opposition is more divided than ever before. There are currently more than twenty separate parties, ten of them significant.

And within the MDC, there are some tensions as its founding leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has been seriously ill, and there is some pressure on him to stand down. This opposition fragmentation is enormously beneficial to ZanuPF, allowing them a real possibility of winning at the polls even if opposition parties attract more votes between themselves.

For the opposition it is, therefore, imperative to unify or at least broker alliances or electoral pacts. It’s also crucial that the elections are free and fair, and perceived as such by the electorate. ZanuPF has a long precedent of electoral foul play. If this is to be avoided in 2018, external monitoring will be essential. It is quite inadequate for observers to parachute into Zimbabwe shortly before the poll (recent approval of the Kenya elections tell a cautionary tale in this regard.)

There needs to be a persistent presence on the ground long, long before that, as registration procedures need to be scrutinized. In conclusion, if we reward Mnangagwa’s ‘same as it ever was’ ZanuPF for its internal coup, for example, by prematurely dropping individual sanctions, we would help cement the culture of impunity that already infects Zimbabwe, where the perpetrators never face the consequences of their actions, and where real freedom and reform remain elusive.

  • Whether we like what these chaps said or not, their end run was a disappointment, they should have do… https://t.co/tKLvHbX3l5

  • Reforms are needed starting with free and fair elections.We are tired of being held at ransom by those that claim to have fought for the country.The struggle was a collective effort from across all levels of society.Monopolising the freedoms brought to us that war for freedom is abominable.

    • Sanctions should be removed first

    • Glendon,misrule came first so it should go first .

    • Did you ask ED akaramba here?

    • ED must give the US a signed road map to reform and translate it into reality day by day….that is not impossible. The ball is in his court. Zimbabwe has every right to demand reform. It also has every right to be mistrusting. .. ED can now show his true leadership ability and go for broke in bringing huge change to Zimbabwe. .. he would be honoured for that

  • This Peter Godwin was talking sense

  • A luta continua…

  • Matuzvi avo president vavo akabirira maelections, after election people were fighting in the streets but we didn’t interfere. Even if they try to sellout our country those dudu we will fight with our last breath. Tichapedzisira torwisana nekuda kwe America

  • Plus I don’t think what they are demanding is a big deal. What can’t those responsible do likewise so that we go forward as a country

    • the statement is begging not to see the newly movement in Zimbabwe by lifting individual sancitions. in which the sayer is pointing to cultural impu…. what what.. the statement points to more needed suffers the their enemy, in which when their enemy dodges that suffering the stone hit the odinary citizen as just it happened before . So them the pinky men are so cruel and not good people on this planet earth they are so dangerus to brown nations now i had said the colours. reply.

  • He is talking nonsense did Mugabe ever suffered the consequences through sanctions or ordinary Zimbabweans are the one affected? Mdc has lost it.

    • Read before commenting, where is it about Sanctions

    • explain how we suffer becoz of the sanctions.i know we suffer becoz of own gvt ‘s policies.health workers travel in lorries ,activists like Dzamara disappear for telling the truth hapana masanctions apa.our roads are a mess bt we pay tollgates and we have resources like diamonds ,gold and platinum mari iri kuendepi iyoyo?

    • Mike Milard talk like a real man,sanctions are there because of bad governance and you want ignore that and talk of sanctions instead,you sound like a Zanu Pf lunatic

    • Mdc will rule in America Kwete muZimbabwe

    • It is you who suffer my guy not these individuals. So work up

    • 15 billion stolen because of sanctions…. Most of us are now propaganda products…. We blame kutema kwemusoro kut air we breathe is warm when there are srs issues to do with lack of water for drinking.

    • We suffered because RGM & his snouts in the feeding trough kleptocratic lot took everything. .. sanctions my foot.

    • Will never vote for them if this sanctions are not remove i have suffered enough. Enough is enough MDC is enemy of Zimbabwe tisu tinotamba nhamo Chinamasa arikurarama zvaanoda vana vake vachidzidza kwavanoda we suffer for their benefit enough is enough

    • You baboon do not even understand what a sanction is!

  • Viva MDC, till we have legitimate elections, free and fair Elections, Why Military every where, they must go back to the Barracks, Military thinks beating people is the only solution people to listen forcefully

  • Chakaoma chii kuita free and fair election. Ahwinha ahwina totangira ipapo

  • ZIMBABWE must get rid of this DISEASE called ZANU PF for good, lets register vote, we want Legitimate free and Fair Elections. Viva Viva MDC, till we have legitimate elections, free and fair Elections, viva Opposition

  • Ya topedzerana kuno dn worry

  • Sanctions have hurt ordinary zimbos not those listed as targeted individuals! Our country is pathetically poor as local countrymen peacefully sweat painfully to make ends meet.A closer look around our societies will reveal hopeless people who can’t do anything except work thru to eat and educate their children. Our politicians should look at the ordinary person’s way of life and formulate policies that upgrade societal status ,I have never seen any MDC politician in rural Zimbabwe nor have l seen any ZANU pf politician brewing peaceful ideologies,lts always denigrating each rival in a bid to win the electorate.its high time our politics dwell on economic resuscitation, These parties should garner investors into our country ,Regai kuti umwe arikubata ishwa umwe arikutsindira mwena irikubuda ishwa dzacho just because you have different ideologies pakubata ishwa dzacho,APA muri vana hombarume vasiya mhuri ine nzara kumba .kurwira hushe hakuna chakunobatsira ,

    • Cant believe Mugabe managed to instill this sanctions mantra into the minds of even seemingky hounerable pple…which sanctions r u toking about that hurt pple?? Zpf plundered this country and they continue to do that with impunity

    • Our country is pathetically poor because RGM and his merry band of lootocrats took everything….

    • Vanhu vanofunga nemkosho munonetsa mhani. Sanctions api, name them

  • y are most Zimbabweans from the diaspora against ED?some people are cruel and power hungry shuwa shuwa a true Zimbo requesting for sunctions..whichwill hurt the ordinary man… ngavambo mira avo,takaitora tega nyika from mugabe ende tichaigadzira tega futi..imi makatiza chamunogona kungoshoropodza chete…

    • bt if i still remember pakatanga zvema sanctions vanhu vai supporter mudhara bobo vachi blamer ma sanctions vachikanganwa kuti its not about sanctions but bad governance.we have a lot of minerals and you know whats going with them right now..tax money inodyiwa nema sanctions.if we go to roads tinobhadhara wani ma tollgates mutero yemota mari iyoyo inoendepi..duty rinobhadharwa pa border mari idzodzo dziri kuendepi..ngatisangimhanyira kuti ma sanctions..blame the bad governance

    • but that was Mugabe’s government Allen ED is trying to fix it kungoti chete achiri maearly days but in 3 months time tenge takutanga kuona maresults..mugabe had distroyed everything and vanhu vanga vakungo luta

    • but that was Mugabe’s government Allen ED is trying to fix it kungoti chete achiri maearly days but in 3 months time tenge takutanga kuona maresults..mugabe had distroyed everything and vanhu vanga vakungo luta

  • Ko vanhu vanombotyeiko kuita free and fair election.South Africa inoita wani.

  • Ndokunonzi kutaura chokwadi uku

  • Asked by Booker on how the US can help in this current situation. Mr Godwin raised 2 points . The first one was the US and other countries could set up a “lancaster house” kind of conference whereby the international community will offer to help or invest or cancell debt if and when some conditions are met.
    The second point was the US could lift the sanctions as well as ease other restrictions for abperiod of time and permanently if progress is made

  • Read his book ” Mukiwa – White boy in Africa , Peter Godwin is a Rhodie to the bone .

    • Pinky boy in Africa. corrections let him correct he is not white he is Pinky. is a fig white?

  • So MDC went to beg them not to remove sanctions yet coz they thought hmmmm the President has managed to force a new thinking on American policy reagarding the sanctions so from now on if they need my vote they must work double and treble shifts to win me over

    • what kind of a leader is that after seeing the results of sancitions and he still continue. Vakaomana hei! tingagodini panyika.

    • Utofunga zvavo kuti kana masanctions akabviswa garwe harichasundiki Zimbabwe yoenda mberi ivo vakatarisa manje kubudirira kwe Zimbabwe kwavarwadza,,grace was on sanctions nemurume wake but they never slept with empty tummies,vana vavo kana kumbodzingwa kuchikoro they parted 24/7,their loot were frozen and they went on a looting spree to replace zvavakatorerwa zvacho and all these things affected the poorest of the poor but MDC doesnt give a damn

  • If we REWARD. the campony rewards its employees, the school (award) not reward. the owner reward the founder of his thing. God is Rewarding his faithful stuwards if they bring back the tith or if they give the offering. Who is these men who talk of rewarding.

  • Guys me am suprised by pple who always says sunctions ur there coz of bad govt nd democracy really,most of American friends aren’t democratic starting wth America yacho ,they ur on a downward spiral as far as democracy is concerned,look at their allies in the middle East ,Saudi Arabia,Qatar,UAE nd others those citizens doesn’t know hw a ballot box or paper look lyk but have you heard USA raising a wimp,all they want is Zim to be a Libya or Iraq which is gone nd ur busy looting oil .Now I believe that Zim problem is not Zanu Pf only but we ur cursed with a very unpatriotic opposition called M DC ,if American ur really concerned about Zim why not engage all opposition parties nd hear their views about Zimbabwe

  • we are sick and tired of the powerful states imposing sanctions on poor states where the ordinary man on the streets suffers the most . their president rigged the elections and what happened to him, so who will stand up and say mr president you rigged elections so we are taking this action. when golliath steals no-one stands bt wen david steals the world over makes noise.

  • Do your research musanyeperwa vanhu, Ian Smith had a bumming economy under sanctions, plus they do not affect ordinary citizens connect with USA Embassy page and see how much they help our people, scholarships, refugees, etc what you need to understand is that the looters were put under sanctions stopping them from externalising to USA and also travel ban effected call USA Embassy and get statistics of Visa applications musanyeperwa . Vari kuda mari yerubatsiro ko $15billion iripi why not recover that missing money, if they get help now what about all the other issues affecting vanhu and they are in our favour no help until mareforms and human rights issues are addressed. Do your research l was of the same mindset till l got the truth behind sanctions.

  • Propoganda works – listen – sanctions never hurt the people of Zimbabwe but prevented Gucci Grace going shopping and other zanoids flying to certain countries!


  • hanziiko naPeter uyu😳😳

  • ..and someone comes and say MDC is not after sanctions. If I go to Zim my first priority is to apply for FN Rifle, ther people who are not supposed to be living.

  • f MDC was democratic as it claims to be Tsvangirai sjould have relinguished power in 2013. Gold diggers. During the GNU they were all quiet because they had joined the looting team now they are out they are crying like they care. This is rubbish.

  • How many Chamisa’s trucks are contracted to Gushungo’s Farm?? This Chamisa is stupid, he cannot run his own farm???

  • So true,so very true.

  • gi

  • Ndozvavakaendera vana Biti izvozvo

  • Sanctions or whatever havalume

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  • y are you complaining about sanctions. .they must stay on until the new zanupf gvmt prove it’s worth to govern this great nation. .this is a test for munangagwa and this old guards if they can stant the pressure ..remember munangagwa never earn that position the military put him there. ..now tht he is on top he must defend that position through constitutional means and owner. ..he must feel the hit …he must restore the rule of law. ..pple thy want the walk the talk from Mr president …personally I would say it’s to early for sanction lifting .

  • A subjective bigoted and negative appraisal deliberately designed to mislead the US Senate, discredit the new Zimbabwe government and to stifle progress.

  • That’s hogwash anyway. Every time the MDC is in America singing the same chorus of humanity and and Human Rights abuse. This same opposition portrays a very bad image of the country who even any Zimbabwean from all walks of life are subject to ridicule for Human Rights are always vilified seen as inhuman and suffer