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Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye: Mnangagwa busts own rhetoric

By Luke Tamborinyoka

In the week that Mnangagwa’s much-vaunted crusade against corruption spectacularly collapsed in our captured courts; the same week that the national purse-minder George Guvamatanga exposed himself by hosting an obscenely lavish birthday party and received trinkets from the most rotten and corrupt characters on the land, ED simply bust his own rhetoric in his purported crusade against corruption.

Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye with Luke Batsirai Tamborinyoka
Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye with Luke Batsirai Tamborinyoka

Indeed, it was the same week that one Kudakwashe Mnangagwa was reported to have been elected unopposed as a student leader at Lupane University where Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa is the chancellor.

This is just plain corruption—a crude form of corporate incest in the world of business.

But then Mr Mnangagwa is a man of shameless habits. He is the same man who–with neither shame nor compunction—accorded his own wife Auxillia with a grand merit award on Heroes Day some two months ago.

In the week that Mnangagwa’s thugs assisted by the police unleashed untold violence on the people’s President Advocate Nelson Chamisa in Masvingo, ED has simply been exposed for the charlatan that he is. He is not soft as wool but an unsophisticated thug.

A few weeks ago I had wanted to write a piece that I wanted to to title ‘ Zhemu’s Shame . ‘This was after Energy Minister Soda Zhemu found himself having to negotiate for Zambia to provide the country with 100 MW of power only days after Mnangagwa had, through his spokesperson, insulted the now Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema by branding him a sellout.

And now the same shameless ED government wanted him to sell out his country’s power. It appears HH might refuse, insisting he is no sellout!

Since his inauguration for his stolen tenure some three years ago, Mr Mnangagwa has done precisely the opposite of what he had pledged to do. Throughout his pilfered tenure, ED has stridently sought to bust his own rhetoric.

Where he had pledged peace, he has in fact maimed and killed; where he promised to deal with corruption he has instead become the grandmaster and where he pledged accountability he has instead chosen to be the doyen of murkiness and shady deals.

In February this year, as we reached the midway mark into Mr Mnangagwa’s stolen mandate, this column published a citizen’s audit of his tenure in which I chronicled a whopping list of 15 unfulfilled promises, nay the 15 lies, that Mnangagwa told the world, in his own words , at his inauguration
at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday, 26 August 2018.

Today, I republish the piece with fresh unfolding detail of how Mr Mnangagwa has bust his own rhetoric in many respects. I juxtapose the dispiriting reality on the ground against his lofty pronouncements, in his own words, at his inauguration ceremony three years ago.

It’s a failed scorecard as the man’s rhetoric has been bust by a weird combination of incompetence, naked lies and a murderous instinct that is dismally not commensurate with modern statecraft.

Herewith the 15 lies as expressed at his inauguration ceremony that have serially proven not to be in sync with the grim reality on the ground.

Lie number 1 : It was a perfect election

In his inauguration speech, Mnangagwa said the 2018 election had been held not only in accordance with the country’s laws, but had been ” guided and unformed by the SADC principles and guidelines governing elections as well as the AU declaration on principles governing democratic elections in Africa .”

Nothing could be further from the truth. The election was not held in line with international best practice. The other contesting parties, except Zanu PF, had no knowledge regarding the number of ballots or where they had been printed. In elections recently held in other countries in the region such as Zambia and Namibia , such information around ballots has not been a closely guarded secret.

In our case, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission even changed its own figures a record three times, and this only after the MDC Alliance had filed an electoral petition. It is curious that ZEC three times revised downwards Mr Mnangagwa’s announced poll figures and this only after President Chamisa had petitioned the courts.

Moreover, the public media did not cover all the parties and candidates equally and impartially in the 2018 election, in line with the provisions of section 61 as read together with section 155 (2) (d) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. A High Court judge, Justice Joseph Mafusire was later to issue a judgement that held that the public media was biased in its coverage of the 2018 plebiscite.

So much for the so-called ” perfect election ” in which Mr Mnangagwa lied at his inauguration had been a free and fair poll in which ” competing ideas were discussed and debated , freely and openly .”

Lie number 2 : We are legitimate

Mnangagwa claimed in his inauguration speech to have been ” duly mandated to form the next government .”

His claim to legitimacy was solely premised on the verdict of the Constitutional Court, which ruled on the 24th of August 2018 that he had won the election.

In a country with a captured Judiciary and whee the term of the Chief Justice has suspiciously been extended probably to gstekeep incumbency in 2023, the claim to a clean mandate will always be contested. Moreover, the judges themselves have written a public letter citing gross political interference in their work, and the claim that Mnangagwa won the election at the pronouncement by an impartial Court becomes preposterous.

In any case, some of us have always argued that legality and legitimacy are not mutually inclusive, just as apartheid in South Africa was perfectly legal even though it was not legitimate and was morally represensible.

Similarly, the court verdict may have made Mr Mnangagwa’s victory legal but that does not make him legitimate as legitimacy and legality are sometimes mutually exclusive.

Moreover, there is the notion of performance legitimacy. Given the dismal failure of ED’s government in addressing pressing national questions, Mnangagwa is illegitimate in that regard as well.

Lie number 3 : We have birthed a new Zimbabwe

In his inauguration speech, Mr Mnangagwa confidently said he had ” birthed a new Zimbabwe .”

Yet his government has continued with the culture of repression and impunity that characterised the era of deposed President Robert Mugabe. The country’s human rights record has palpably gotten worse under his stewardship with lawyers, judges, journalists, MPs, councillors, human rights defenders and civic and political activists being wantonly arrested on trumped-up charges.

The violence meted against President Nelson Chamisa and his team early this week while transacting lawful and legitimate political business is evidence that what was birthed in 2018 is not in any way a new Zimbabwe.

In short, the human rights situation in the country under Mr Mnangagwa has gotten worse. He has not birthed a new, democratic dispensation as he claimed at his inauguration.

The situation in the country is far much worse under Mr. Mnangagwa. In fact, Mnangagwa has turned out to be a Robert Mugabe on steroids!

Lie number 4 : We have opened a new era

In his inauguration speech, Mr Mnangagwa said he had ” opened a new path full of freedoms , democracy , transparency , love and harmony .”

The opposite is in fact true. The Mnangagwa regime has opened a new path and infused emasculation for freedoms, autocracy for democracy, murkiness for transparency, hate for love and acrimony for harmony.

Contrary to his promise of a new era, the Mnangagwa regime has actuated a new error in the entire body politic!

Lie number 5 : We elected leaders of our choice

” We freely exercised our democratic rights to elect leaders of our choice and this we did , said Mr Mnangagwa in his inauguration speech.

Nelson Chamisa was a leader of choice in the election that Mr Mnangagwa claimed people were free to make their choices.

Even by ZEC’s disputed figures, both Chamisa as President of the MDC Alliance and Mnangagwa as Zanu PF leader each surpassed the two million mark in terms of votes garnered in the Presidential poll.

Today, the people’s unfettered choices have been taken away from Nelson Chamisa’s MDC Alliance through recalls, which choices the people had themselves made at the various polling stations throughout the country. Chamisa’s party name, his party headquarters and the MP’s and councillors belonging to the MDC Alliance have all been taken away and donated to Thokozani Khupe, whose national votes garnered throughout the country in the last election were a measly 45 000. And now Khupe has been replaced on the surrogate chair by one Douglas Togaraseyi Mwonzora.

Mnangagwa has tampered with the very freedom of choice that he was pontificating about at his inauguration by giving a whole party headquarters, the party name and the elected seats to pliable surrogates.

Lie number 6 : We will bring finality to the brutal murders of August 1 2018

At his inauguration two and half years ago, Mr Mnangagwa said he would bring ” closure and finality ” to the State orchestrated murders of 1 August 2018.

More than three years later, there is still no closure. Mnangagwa has ignored the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry he set up himself that recommended that action be taken on the perpetrators and that the victims’ families be compensated.

Mr Mnangagwa has neither taken any action on the perpetrators of the heinous murders nor compensated the families of the victims, even though he has previously lied to diplomats that he had compensated the families.

I know for certain that Suspicious Kumire, the widow of the slain Ishmael Kumire who hailed from Matope village in my rural hood of Domboshava has not been compensated. She is struggling to send her two children to Santa Heights school in the same Domboshava area.

In short, Mnangagwa has lied about bringing closure to the August 1 2018 murders.

Lie number 7 : There shall be separation of powers

Mr Mnangagwa claimed at his inauguration that his government will be ” committed to Constitutionalism , entrenching the rule of law , the principle of separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary .”

Mnangagwa has actively and overtly controlled both Parliament and the Judiciary, the latter in which he has brazenly foisted his ally as Chief Justice by controversially extending his term of office. There is no separation of powers in Zimbabwe.

ED has also weaponised the law to fight his political opponents through what has now been branded lawfare. On Constitutionalism, Mr Mnangagwa has instead amended the Constitution instead of implementing it as a true Constitutionalist would have done. He claimed he believed in the separation of powers but the country’s judges have written a letter, now in the public domain, complaining about gross interference in their work. The courts have ruled that prosecutors seconded to the National Prosecution Authority be withdrawn by 20 February 2021 as their deployment to serve in the civilian courts was patently unconstitutional.

For a regime that banks on the security sector, it remains to be seen whether this has actually been done and whether there are sufficient mechanisms to ensure that this directive is complied with. Parliament’s oversight role has been seriously curtailed as Mnangagwa’s key ally, Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda has been complicit in the illegal recall of elected MPs while his other protégé and financier, Kuda Tagwireyi , has brazenly refused to appear before a Parliamentary committee to answer questions regarding the murky Command Agriculture programme in which US$3 billion disappeared without trace.

Therefore, Mr Mnangagwa was lying when he said he believed in the rule of law, separation of powers and had unstinting faith in defending a Constitution he now wants to amend instead of implementing.

Lie number 8 : We shall implement a robust reform agenda

At his inauguration, Mnangagwa said he would usher in a comprehensive reform agenda but to date, the country, the region and the world await political, economic, security sector and media reforms that would not only improve people’s lives but also break the vicious cycle of disputed elections and ensure truly free,, fair and credible polls in Zimbabwe.

All we have heard in the past three years is the rhetoric of reform. We have yet to see the substance.

Lie number 9 : Zimbabwe is open for business
This has largely remained a slogan. There has been no massive investment in the country because of the policy inconsistency by the Mnangagwa regime.

The gross human rights abuses have seriously dented the mantra of Zimbabwe is open for business. A country cannot be open for business when it is not open for human life and human rights!

Lie number 10 : We shall engage and re-engage

At his inauguration, Mnangagwa said he was ” opening a new chapter in our relations with the world , underpinned by the value of mutual respect .”

The gross human rights abuses and the State-sanctioned murders have dented the purported efforts to engage and re-engage. In fact, the Mnangagwa regime, through its acts of omission and commission, has done all it can to disengage from the rest of the civilised world. The value of mutual respect, even in the region, has been seriously undermined by Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF. For example the Zanu PF director of Information, Tafadzwa Mugwadi, has publicly attacked the ANC, South Africa and the country’s leader President Cyril Ramaphosa.

So much for Mr Mnangagwa’s claim that his government will engage and re-engage. It has not helped matters that President Ramaphosa who was publicly attacked by Mr Mnangagwa’s party was the AU chair at the time and had been disrespected when he sent a delegation to the country to explore ways of dealing with the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Only recently, on the eve of HH’s poll victory in Zambia, ED had through his acerbic spokesperson branded him a liar.

So much for the value of mutual respect that Mr Mnangagwa pontificated about at his inauguration.

Lie number 11 : We shall improve social services

At his inauguration, Mr Mnangagwa said: ” There is need for the modernisation and revamping of our social services sector to improve efficiency and the quality of delivery .”

In spite of this high-sounding promise, basic social services, particularly health and education, have virtually collapsed. Both teachers and health workers have very legitimate grievances which have not been addressed.

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, these frontline workers have been neglected, with neither any form of government support nor the provision of the requisite PPE.

” My government will move speedily to refurbish and reconstruct health , education , water and sanitation infrastructure . This is a promise we will deliver ,” Mnangagwa said in his inauguration speech.

Sadly, and most cruelly, Mnangagwa has dismally failed to meet his own promise in this regard.


Lie number 12 : We shall create jobs

At his inauguration, Mnangagwa said: ” The creation of jobs , jobs and more jobs will be at the core of all our policies .”

Unfortunately, no single job has been created by this government, save for the vast “jobs” and opportunities that Mr Mnangagwa has created for his kinsmen, acolytes and cronies across the labyrinth of the country’s economic sectors.

Early this year, this column published over 30 names of Mnangagwa’s blood relatives, cronies, kinsmen, tribesmen and tribes women that Mr Mnangagwa has appointed to top party, government and quasi-State institutions.

Lie number 13 : I shall be fair and impartial

“As your President , I pledge to act fairly and impartially ,” Mr Mnangagwa told a bemused audience at his inauguration on 26 August 2018.

Instead, partiality, unfairness and selective application of the law have been the hallmark of Mr Mnangagwa’s tenure thus far.

For example, while corrupt goons such as Obadiah Moyo never spent a night in prison, it is those who expose corruption who have been arrested. Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono has been arrested three times in less than a year while the the corrupt elite continue to freely roam the country.

Mnangagwa’s partiality has also been exposed by the fact that while his government locked down the country for the rest of the citizenry, he allowed his party’s DCC elections as well the Congress of his political surrogates to proceed. Government ministers who held birthday parties and Mnangagwa’s friends who hosted lavish end-pf-year bashes in violation of Covid-19 lockdown regulations were not arrested while ghetto youths who did the same were incarcerated.

Mnangagwa’s government has also announced that it is now on the verge of procuring Covid-19 vaccines. Apart from frontline staff, who certainly deserve priority, the government has announced it will also prioritise government ministers and the political elite in the provision of Covid-19 vaccines.

So much for Mr Mnangagwa’s promise for fairness, non-discrimination and impartiality!

Lie number 14 : I will unstintingly fight corruption

” In the Second Republic , no person or entity will be allowed to steal , loot or pocket that which belongs to the people of Zimbabwe,” Mr Mnangagwa said at his inauguration.

Decisively dealing with graft has been Mr Mnangagwa’s biggest failure. Instead, corruption has become a compulsory religion under this so-called Second Republic. Most of the corruption has sucked in the First family while Mnangagwa’s own bodyguards have been fingered in some of the murky deals. Mnangagwa’s uncle and former Health minister Obadiah Moyo, close relative Henrietta Rushwaya who attempted to smuggle 6kgs of gold outside the country with the assistance of Mnangagwa’s personal bodyguards are just but a sample that shows that corruption is deeply ingrained in the country’s political elite. If one adds the cases of deputy minister Mangwiro and others whose cases have either died a natural death or collapsed spectacularly, it becomes clear the country has become a kleptocracy.

Mnangagwa just can’t deal with corruption because he is the archbishop. It is instructive to note that we are still to get news of a conviction on these high profile corruption cases. Expecting Mnangagwa to decisively deal with corruption is akin to expecting a mosquito to cure malaria.

Lie number 15 : I shall implement devolution

” As per our pledge , during the campaign , my government will be implementing the Constitutional provisions with regards to devolution of government powers and responsibilities . Provinces will now be expected to plan and grow their provincial economies ,” Mr Mnangagwa thundered at his inauguration.

Notwithstanding the boisterous pronouncement, the reality on the ground is that there is lip-service when it comes to the issue of devolution. There is no sincerity whatsoever on the part of government to implement devolution despite the clear provisions contained under chapter 14 of the national Constitution.

For example, the provincial and metropolitan councils that must run the provinces as envisaged under the devolution principle are still to be put in place, some eight years after the adoption of the new Constitution. In fact, it is a well-calculated manoeuvre that Zanu PF is using its political surrogate to recall and reverse the number of MDC Alliance elected officials in the provinces as part of a ploy to influence the political colour of these provincial councils.

To demonstrate that the regime is not committed to the notion of devolution, we heard very disturbing stories at the MDC Alliance’s Mayors’ Forum that President Chamisa hosted at the party headquarters on 28 February last year.

We heard from our councillors and mayors that there was favoritism and political bias in the disbursement of devolution funds to local authorities. Larger local authorities run by the MDC Alliance were receiving less money than smaller local authorities run by Zanu PF. For example, the larger local authority of Zvishavane that is controlled by the MDC Alliance received less money than the smaller Runde rural district council run by the Zanu PF. Similarly, the MDC Alliance-run Rusape Town Council received less money than the smaller rural district councils that are controlled by Zanu PF in the surrounding areas.

In short, notwithstanding his high-sounding statements on the issue of devolution, Mr Mnangagwa has proved to be insincere as evidenced by the fact that his government is still to constitute the requisite provincial and metropolitan councils that must run these provinces.


Judged against his own words, Mnangagwa’s tenure has been a tale of outright lies, a sordid narrative of high-sounding rhetoric that he busted himself by refusing to live by his word. His high-sounding promises at his inauguration ceremony, as Shakespeare would say, were a piece of sublime mysticism and nonsense.

Each of the country’s 10 provinces can give you a laundry list of false promises made to them by Mnangagwa during his campaign trail and as spelt out at his inauguration. But at village, provincial and national levels the promises remain unfulfilled as Mnangagwa has shown an uncanny capacity to lie at every turn.

For a man whose government has a penchant of concocting trumped up charges of communicating falsehoods against innocent citizens, it is ironic that the man himself is the chief protagonist in peddling mistruths to a despondent nation, as enunciated in this treatise.

This audit or juxtaposition of his lofty promises against the reality on the ground has shown that since August 2018, ours has been a strident march up the garden path. There is absolutely no doubt that ED has dismally failed to fulfil his own promises.

And the chances of him fulfilling his promises in the remainder of his stolen term lie somewhere between nil and zero!

Mnangagwa has simply institutionalised lying, as exemplified by his laughable allegation that those who claimed they had been abducted by State security agents were actually people who were abducting themselves so as to frame the government. Or that other fawny claim by State Security Minister Owen Ncube that Nelson Chamisa and the MDC Alliance were bringing huge arms of war into the country in order to unseat the government.

It was astounding that a whole Cabinet Minister could sit before clicking cameras to make such serious allegations without any shred of evidence whatsoever and without arresting the alleged culprits fingered in such a treasonous act!

As the scoresheet shows against his own promises, it has been zero out of 15 for Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa as measured against his own promises and pronouncements at his inauguration on 26 August 2016.

On corruption, Mnangagwa has simply bust his own rhetoric to fight the seeping culture of sleaze, avarice and graft. He, his family and those around him have proven to be the chief culprits in this regard.

At the airport gold heist, those implicated included his relative Henrietta Rushwaya as well as his personal bodyguards Stephen Tserayi, Gift Karanda and Rafius Mupandauya. His cronies have taken over Fidelity Printers and Refineries while his family members, including his children, are part of the roving bandits scouring for gold across the country and across the communities.

Mnangagwa has created a special anti-corruption unit in his own office which is unto itself an act of corruption as he was replicating the work of an independent Constitutional Commission. Much like having a unit in the President’s Office that deals with elections thereby usurping the role of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

It’s all abominably criminal, corrupt, despicable and reprehensible.

We are talking here of Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa, an international criminal named in the UN report (S/2002/1146) as having been the chief protagonist in the looting of diamonds in the DRC. On the murders of innocent citizens on August 1, 2018, an investigating commission he appointed himself implicated the army in which he is the Commander-in-Chief, which makes him vicariously liable at a personal level. We are talking of a confirmed murderer here. A criminal.

As a nation—and as we brace to vote out this criminal lot in 2023—we must know that we are this time targeting a criminal President and the smaller criminals around him.

# Ngaapinde Hake Mukomana

# Kangene Ujaha

Luke Tamborinyoka is the Deputy Secretary for Presidential Affairs in the MDC Alliance led by Advocate Nelson Chamisa. You can interact with him on his Facebook page or on the twitter handle @luke_tambo