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It was only going to be a matter of time before Mnangagwa’s Zimbabwe reverted back to default settings: – violence, impunity and torture

By Tendai Chabvuta

The 2018 watershed general elections seemingly ended with the ZEC’s Priscilla Chigumba proclaiming incumbent Emerson D Mnangagwa’s (ED) victory in the Presidential elections.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa
President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Many have argued that a different outcome could not have been expected judging from what transpired after the November 15 coup that ousted Robert Mugabe.

On the other hand, credit has to be given to ED for the climate of peace and general freeness that prevailed in the country during the pre election period.

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Zimbabweans and the international community were quite ecstatic about this man, this President; this supposed reformed ZAU PF stalwart who had stood against all odds so that the country could become a democratic state at least without politically motivated and state sponsored violence, repression and intolerance.

The hope has since faded since the August 1, 2018 killings of about six people on Harare’s streets allegedly shot by Zimbabwe’s security forces.

People are shocked, fear has engulfed the whole country, Tendai Biti has fled the country and sought asylum in Zambia and as usual speculation is rife about who exactly is in charge of the country between Mnangagwa and his VP, (rtd) General Constantine Chiwenga.

Well, after all is said and done, the truth of the matter is that it was only going to be a matter of time before ZANU PF reverted back to their default settings (rule by fear; torture, violence, state sponsored violence, abductions of opposition officials etc).

What do you mean President ED does not know what’s going on?

One of the biggest myths that is been peddled thus far is that ED is not in control and it is actually his VP, General Chiwenga who is calling the shots (literally) – having people shot by soldiers and abducted etc. I beg to differ. ED knows what is going down. He might be making other proclamations for peace, unity and tolerance but the current violence serves his purpose too well.

He has and he will allow it to go on while feigning ignorance. The strategy for ZANU PF is almost clever – blame the military and Chiwenga and leave the ‘civilian’ Mnangagwa out of it. For the gullible this seems to be working. This strategy is nothing new.

It has been implemented before by Mugabe – with the blame being shifted to ED for Gukurahundi and the bloody 2008 ‘wakavhotera papi’ reign of terror. Mugabe feigned ignorance of the violence and in the end they managed to break the spines of MDC supporters who had challenged them to the theft of the election against Morgan Tsvangirai.

ED remains the President of Zimbabwe and Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces – he has the ability and power to rein in the soldiers if he wanted to. This whole hullabaloo about setting up commissions of enquiry is just a ruse – to look for what, when and how? The truth of the matter is that ZANU PF does not know any better, it was only a matter of time before they reverted to default settings and it is all clear now – more violence, abductions, and other human rights violations.

… But the international community is convinced ED won the election ….

So the argument remains sustained that ED won the elections and even the EU bloc and other ‘progressive’ countries have issued cautioned congratulatory messages. Well, I am not the one to judge whether he won the election or not. However, what is clear from the messages I have seen thus far is that these countries from the North are just tired of the ‘Zimbabwe question’.

They struggled with Mugabe for well over three decades – anything other than him would have carried the day for them. Moreover, there are diplomatic and strategic consequences for refusing to endorse the Zimbabwe poll. One thing that is very clear is that after Rwanda, countries from the North do not want to be ever held responsible for any bloodshed that could result as a consequence of their seeming interference in domestic countries of other nations.

The bar had been set very low already – imagine having the Brexit polls or the deeply divided Belgian nation’s poll being judged on the absence of violence. That the bar for the elections had been set at such low ebb is disheartening but what to do. Those who have the means to butcher people are patted on the back for not unleashing violence on their own people?

They have played the game right – BUT they forgot that it was only going to be a matter of time before ZANU PF reverted to its default settings and it is all clear now – more violence, abductions, and other human rights violations.

 … The Africans are with ED – look at Uhuru Kenyatta and Ramaphosa and even the EFF …

Congratulatory messages from Uhuru Kenyatta of the Kenya and his South African counterpart came in fast and furious. One has to understand the context in which Uhuru operates. He is finishing off a very much contested Presidential second term in Kenya.

Whether the election in Kenya was stolen is a story for another day but what is clear is that he has quickly returned the favour he got at the time he ‘won’ the election in his country for his second term. Chamisa is quite close to Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta’s political nemesis.

It would be naïve for Uhuru Kenyatta to dither and be undecided on which side he would be on in Zimbabwe. So he has chosen strategically to be with ED.

For Ramaphosa, the message is very clear. He is siding with a fellow liberation movement as what the ANC has always done. Furthermore, the assumption was that quickly endorsing and congratulating ED would send a clear message that South Africa; a powerhouse on its own would not entertain any noise from the opposition in Zimbabwe. South Africa does not want any more trouble from Zimbabwe, this is understandable. South Africa is tired of Zimbabwe’s problems – the refugee an economic migrants’ influx etc.

Uhuru and Ramapahosa quickly congratulated ED for his victory BUT they forgot that it was only going to be a matter of time before ZANU PF reverted to its default settings and it is all clear now – more violence, abductions, and other human rights violations.

… Half of Zimbabwe wants ED so do we deny him his victory? …

One of the arguments made by Zimbabweans locally is that it would be unfair to deny ED his vote just on the basis that the MDC Alliance and Nelson Chamisa refuse to accept the results. Indeed, this is true, until the court case is finalised in the next few days it would be folly to want to argue that ED lost the election because Nelson Chamisa cannot be defeated by ED.

There are new voters I have spoken to and they have argued that ED brought hopes of a new life in Zimbabwe. There are young professional women who I have spoken and they have argued that they were incensed by Chamisa’s denigration of women in his speeches.

There are hordes of famers in urban and rural areas who commend ED for Command Agriculture and noted that they would have voted for him for without doubt. Among all these people there are indeed people who genuinely support ZANU PF and ED. However, there is an undeniable fact that among them there is also a huge section that sought to defend their ‘patronage gifts’ from ED and ZANU PF.

There are others that sought to vote with their bellies and defend their ill gotten wealth, corrupt tenders and so on. They know fully well, that ZANU PF’s system of governance is messed up and relies heavily on its default settings and that it was only going to be a matter of time before ZANU PF reverted to its default settings and it is all clear now – more violence, abductions, and other human rights violations.

The unfortunate bit though with a system like ZANU PF’s is that a bullet, a baton stick or a booted kick from a soldier does not necessarily select between a ZANU PF, MDC or any other supporter. Zimbabweans need top realize this fact and the earlier the system of violence perpetrated by the state and ZANU PF is confronted the better. The next five years will be very traumatizing for many a Zimbabwean if left unchecked and the local Zimbabwean cannot ululate and cheer on ZANU PF without asking relevant questions about the violence and impunity.

… Covering up and justifying violence in Zimbabwe … it stinks and it’s shabby …

This week started with all sorts of explanations for the killings in Zimbabwe soon after the elections. Many a gullible Zimbabwean have started peddling theories that MDC supporters could have carried weapons and guns which could have been used to shoot innocent Zimbabweans so that the crimes would be passed off as ZANU PF’s, the police or the army.

This argument is rather unfortunate judging from what has happened this past week. It is alleged that members of the security forces tried to force doctors to sign off the deaths of the six people as having resulted from stab wounds. Reports abound that at some of the funerals, secret agents denied mourners and relatives a chance to even take pictures of the funeral processions.

Indeed, if the killings were by private individuals, why haven’t the investigations started? It is unclear why state security agents would want to distort the cause of death of the deceased who clearly had bullet wounds.

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Television had a member of the Zimbabwe National Army revealing that his family had been attacked recently. One would not be quick to want to dismiss such a report.

However, it also suspicious that the same television station investigating and reporting on such a occurrence would fail to report on the killings of six Zimbabweans in Harare and yet they managed to bring footage from Seke, which is further from Harare. Interesting and suspicious.

One would put it that ZANU PF wants to play victim and create a narrative that they are the ones under attack from unruly MDC supporters but nothing could be further from the truth. The state has all the power it needs to reign in any criminal elements and thus would not need to be fatally shooting demonstrators.

Has Zimbabwe forgotten already how police stations were torched in 2008 and it was alleged that MDC supporters were carrying out such only to be proven wrong by the courts.

Has Zimbabwe forgotten the story of the ZUPCO bus that was torched near Warren Park in 2008 and MDC youths were arrested and tortured only later for them to be released after being found innocent? Has Zimbabwe forgotten the story of the Glen View policeman who died in Highfield and almost 30 people were arrested for the murder?

What the majority of Zimbabweans are quickly forgetting is that it was only going to be a matter of time before ZANU PF reverted to its default settings and it is all clear now – more violence, abductions, and other human rights violations.

… Zimbabwe has been on this treacherous, bloody road before but no one has time to listen …

It is unfortunate that Zimbabwe continues to experience politically motivated and state sponsored violence against opposition supporters and human rights defenders. We have been on this path before and nothing seems to have changed.

It is all unravelling and it looks like all the work done by ED in the past few months after the November 15 coup is all being undone. Zimbabwe’s courts have abundant cases of torture, murders, state sponsored violence by the police and the army which remain unresolved from 1998 going through to the 2000, 2002, 2008 and 2013 elections.

The same tricks where the identity of perpetrators is never known/revealed even after commissions of enquiry; where victims and relatives are harassed and forced to bury their dead in secret; where people are disappeared and opposition leaders hounded are all well known and its all coming back again.

… ED must provide leadership ….

The time has now come for Emerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa to provide leadership and help Zimbabwe turn a corner. I am saying this because I don’t have confidence that he will agree or concede to a defeat just the same way Nelson Chamisa refused even before the elections to acknowledge defeat by Emerson. My gut feeling is that Emerson unless a miracle happens will be the next President of Zimbabwe. It could happen but I do not think that ZANU PF could have staged a coup on November 15 so that they could vacate the same offices eight months later!

The man clearly looks like he wants to leave a legacy to be recognized as a great man, a saviour and Zimbabwe’s Joshua. It is not too late for Emerson Mnangagwa to do this. He can call out the soldiers, the police and the intelligence operatives and they will son put an end to all this anguish. Zimbabwe needs to move on and Emerson has the key to that process.

Nothing short of magnanimity and a unifying soul on his part will end the chaos and madness in Zimbabwe. Emerson has mentioned several times that the ‘The Voice of the People is the Voice of God’. Indeed, half the country voted against him and for his opponents. Half the country voted for him. This is part of political contestation. It is a battle of ideas. What has gone wrong now?

Zimbabwe was never told that the rules would change after the game.

Politically motivated violence, State sponsored violence, murders, abductions and the Impunity that comes with it must come to an end NOW! Mnangagwa has the power to STOP IT.