By Knowledge Hakata
“Gukurahundi” loosely translates from the Shona language (one of the main languages spoken in Zimbabwe, alongside English and Ndebele) to mean “the early rain that washes away the chaff.” The killings bearing that name left as many as 20,000 dead between 1983 and 1987.
Mugabe had deployed the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade soldiers in the Matabeleland and Midlands areas of Zimbabwe in the early 1980s to quell dissident threats, an operation that resulted is such gruesome atrocities.
Add to that Human Rights Watch previously documented cases of violence during the 2008 elections, showing that the ZANU-PF-led government was responsible, at the highest levels, for widespread and systematic abuses that led to the killing of up to 200 people, the beating and torture of 5,000 more, and the displacement of about 36,000 people.
There has been little or no accountability for these crimes, Human Rights Watch said. Complaints of political violence filed by victims or their relatives have largely been ignored by the police or have stalled in the courts.
The government has failed to respond to calls by local nongovernmental organizations to investigate abuses. Human Rights Watch expressed concern that many of those who committed serious crimes during the 2008 elections continue to live in the same communities, sometimes next door to their victims, raising concerns about the possibility of future violence.
Local human rights groups have reported several cases in which security agents and ZANU-PF supporters who tortured and beat people during the 2008 election run-off have threatened victims with further violence ahead of a proposed constitutional referendum and new elections.
Zimbabwe has experienced cholera outbreaks dating as far back as 1971 with an unprecedented outbreak occurring in 2008/2009 when 60 of the 62 districts in the country were affected.
The outbreak was declared over in May 2009 and by then, 98,592 cases and 4288 deaths had been reported. In Zimbabwe, outbreaks have occurred against a backdrop of a struggling economy and a weak health system.
The recent divorce drama played out in public by Zimbabwe’s Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga and his wife, ex-model and slay queen Marry Chiwenga, has revealed skeletons in his cupboard which demonstrate that, not only is he failing to lead his own house, he lacks the integrity to lead the nation.
Chiwenga’s divorce case has gone a long way to expose the depth of moral decay in which our national leaders are mired. It is, however, the level of impunity and belief of entitlement that comes as most shocking, killing all hope of restoring Zimbabwe’s moral fibre.
VP Chiwenga openly tells the court, in one of the flurry of court applications exchanged with his estranged wife, that he is a recipient of several luxury vehicles from state entities and conflicted individuals — a revelation that ordinarily would have called for immediate investigation.
The exposure of these curious gifts made it appear the VP found it better to admit to corruption rather than being found guilty of shortchanging his wife in the divorce settlement and losing out on houses and cars.
The property claims that Chiwenga makes publicly and the counter-claims made by Marry, his estranged wife, demonstrate to the world the vast wealth that Zimbabwe’s leaders enjoy while the majority of citizens are trapped in poverty.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is on record telling Zimbabweans to be patient as his government continues its brutal policies of killing innocent citizens by means of economic hardship in the form of the high unemployment rate, the fuel crisis, price hikes for basic commodities plus deteriorating conditions in the health sector which have led to strikes by both junior and senior doctors, and the bond note is devaluing every passing second.
The origins of Zimbabwe’s crisis date back to Mugabe’s era but the current crisis can only and solely be blamed on Mnangagwa and his second in command Chiwenga. Kembo Mohadi has been sidelined as a ceremonial Vice-President just like his predecessor Phelekezela Mphoko.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that Mnangagwa is President in name only and that Vice-President Chiwenga is the defacto leader. When it comes to critical issues the former military leader has been taking the driver’s seat. Does he have a gun in Mnangagwa’s back? Zimbabwe is not just in an economic crisis but in a leadership crisis as well.
In addition, the current Presidium is just a clique of ZANU PF chefs who really do not know what they are doing led by a President who continues to demonstrate that he is incapable of managing the economy.
For starters Mnangagwa promised to restore the economy soon after his inauguration but since then he has spent millions of US Dollars globetrotting with his entourage, announcing to the world “Zimbabwe is open for business.”
There has been no consequent inflow of international investment, just a continuation of economic colonization by China. Surely our President needs direction, but who is really to blame for an economic madness that the country is experiencing now?
Chiwenga’s only solution to the nation’s problems is to flex his muscles and bully people into submission just as he did in the stalemate with the nurses. Next time around he resorted to suspending junior doctors. How on earth can you do such a move?
Instead of channeling resources into paying doctors a decent salary and procuring essential drugs and supplies for our hospitals, the acting President actually blasted the innocent doctors by sidetracking the issue to trying to protect the right to life.
As much as the right to life should be protected, the lives of those who labour in protecting that right should also be considered. Just how he will cope with the coronavirus pandemic remains to be seen.
Chiwenga demonstrated on 1 August 2018 that he is not above using military force against the people. The findings of the subsequent Motlanthe commission of inquiry have been completely ignored. That commission achieved nothing at all except to raise the hopes of expectant Zimbabweans at the time and to make them realize now just how vulnerable they are.
As long as Chiwenga continues to bulldoze through his solutions to critical issues, no investor will waste time or money coming to Zimbabwe. Chiwenga is fixed on becoming the next President not on fixing the economy. He does not care about the people.
The ex-army leader belongs in the barracks not in his current position. His indecisiveness and poor timing plus total lack of political philosophy have caused our economy to stumble from one crisis to another.
Mnangagwa is more or less a captured President who is good at saying the right things but the de facto President in the person of Chiwenga could be his major stumbling block towards resurrecting a dead economy.
Zimbabweans thought the ouster of Mugabe would bring economic prosperity but it never rains but pours for expectant and long-suffering, innocent citizens.
Just where are Chiwenga and Mnangagwa taking Zimbabweans?
Knowledge Hakata is an independent political analyst. He can be contacted at [email protected]