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Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye: Four Years On: A glimpse of ED’s dismal scorecard of lies

Today is 26 August 2022, exactly four years to the day since Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa’s inauguration at a glitzy and colourful inauguration in the aftermath of a disputed election.

Today, on the 4th anniversary of his inauguration that was held against the backdrop of spangled banner colours amid so much promise, I publish ED’s dismal scorecard against what he said himself on that day on that conspicuous occasion when the world and many Zimbabweans were still granting him the benefit of the doubt.

Before I go national, I start with ED’s failure as depicted by the parlous situation in my hallowed land in Domboshava, itself a reflection of the national collapse. As I write, villagers across Domboshava are being asked to make donations for the construction of a charge office as well as police accommodation given that most police officers at Chinamhora police station, popularly known as ” paChimudhuri , “are lodging in the nearby Chirombo village and other surrounding areas.

In a stark abdication of its responsibility, the government has also asked villagers in Shumba ward to construct a police post at Nyaure clinic. There is absolutely nothing wrong in building police outposts and police accommodation, only that one would have thought that it was government’s responsibility to construct police stations as well as providing decent accommodation to its own workers. But not ED’s government. They would rather outsource that to ordinary, struggling villagers who cannot even afford building their own houses.

At this rate, where residents are being asked to subsidise all government construction work in their vicinity, it may come as no surprise at all if the residents of Belgravia, Alexandra Park and the Avenues area were to be asked to make donations for repair work at the nearby State House. Indeed, it appears it has now come to that!

And it was none other than chief Chinamhora himself, an uncle of mine, who held a meeting in Shumba ward last Friday asking village heads to raise money for the construction of a satellite police post at Nyaure clinic as well as a new charge-office and police accommodation at Chinamhora police station.

On Saturday, he was at the Mawanga ward 2 office at Mushayapokuvaka, delivering the same message to village heads before proceeding with his gospel to the other wards in Domboshava in this hallowed land of my birth.

I reiterate that there is nothing wrong with constructing satellite police posts as well as a charge office and police accommodation at the main police station in our locality. My feeling is that it is the height of government failure to ask weather-beaten citizens to construct police stations and houses for police officers. That is the remit of central government for which they collect taxes and for which they have units such as the Ministry of National Housing and the Department of Public Construction.

Moreover, this is the same government that last year claimed to have had a budget surplus and yet recently announced a supplementary budget that is bigger than the original budget. Indeed, you ought to know you now have a problem on your hands when your boxer short is longer than your pair of trousers!

But then, we have a government that has certainly abdicated its duties and is now outsourcing its responsibility to villagers, including old women. By demanding donations from every villager, this government certainly wants everyone, including mbuya Hellen from Dzawara village who is almost 100 years old, to take up the onerous task of public constrction, itself the remit of any government worth to be called by that name.

In Domboshava alone, before nationalising the crisis, ED’s handiwork of failure is there for all to see. The poor road through Molife to Pote, the road that crosses Masikandoro stream from Nyakudya to Munyawiri up to Chinyere village near Govera school, the rugged pathway through Chinamhora to Jingo, the rocky terrain from Makumbe to Murungweni village, the lack of proper infrastricture at Sally Mugabe in ward 6 as well as Charlotte Brooke in ward 7 and parts of ward 8 are all an ominous tale of failure.

In ward 4, where Zanu PF youths recently stopped the elected CCC councillor from holding a development meeting, the signs of collapse are visible from Gutsa village up to Zimbiru and the Domboshava Training Centre, a once-mighty institution that now resembles a ghost pre-colonial township.

In any case, the State road to Domboshava is now barely passable especially from Mverechena to Showground, where crater-like potholes make you think you are in Donetsk in war-torn Ukraine.

Yes, in Domboshava, ED’s glaring lies during his 2018 campaign trail have now been laid bare for all to see. While addressing party fauthfuls in April 2018 at Chirodzero shopping centre in Domboshava, popularly known as ” paShowground “, Mnangagwa said he was of the Shumba totem and he had heard there was a very poor road to an area called Shumba, which is my home area in ward three of Goromonzi West.

Mnangagwa promised to have the road tarred before 2023. Today, that road is in a parlous state. A council grader that attempted to do some cursory repair work broke down three weeks ago at Ngomakurira, with no indication as to when it will continue its repair work.

Dear reader, kindly note that the grader will not do much to redeem the road, given its massive state of disrepair. It is clear Mnangagwa’s promised tar was a lie of monumental proportion and both villagers as well as other community leaders in the area are determined to make their loud statement in the ballot box next year.

Today, at the occasion of ED’s inauguration, I evaluate how far ED has gone in implementing his own promises to the country and the world at that grand and glitzy occasion at the National Sports stadium in Harare. In this instalment, I judge him against only 15 of the many lofty pronouncements he made that day on 26 August, 2018.

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 informed 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. Perfect elections are not challenged in court, as happened in 2018.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 held in other countries in the region such as Zambia and Namibia, such information around ballots was not a closely guarded secret.

In our case, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission even changed its own figures a record three times, and this only after President Nelson Chamisa 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 where the term of the Chief Justice has suspiciously been extended probably to gatekeep incumbency in 2023, the claim to a clean mandate will always be contested.

Moreover, the judges themselves have in the past written a public letter citing gross political interference in their work. In that context, 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 reprehensible.

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 arbitrary arrests, murders and violence against all and sundry are all 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 but 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.

But the people’s unfettered choices were taken away from Nelson Chamisa’s party 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 his party were all taken away and donated to pliable surrogates. 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 his 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. Four 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 .” But Mnangagwa has instead 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 securocrats who are prosecutors and were 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 Tagwirei, 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. 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.

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 modernization 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.

“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. Morale in the health, education and other providers of basic social services is at a very low ebb owing to grossly inadequate remuneration.

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 last 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.

Only recently, Zanu PF’s Justice Mayor Wadyajena was granted bail on corruption charges while the CCC’s Hons Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole are rotting in remand prison when in fact bail should be granted to everyone except in very serious and exceptional circumstances.

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 was arrested three times in less than a year while 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-of-year bashes in violation of Covid-19 lockdown regulations were not arrested while ghetto youths who did the same were incarcerated.

Mnangagwa’s government at one time announced that it would procure Covid-19 vaccines. Apart from frontline staff, who certainly deserved priority, the government announced it would also prioritize 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.

Pomonagate and central government’s interference even in the appointment of council committees in Harare are instructive that Mr Mnangagwa was not sincere on the aspect of devolution.

Equally, the provincial and metropolitan councils that must run the provinces as envisaged under the devolution principle are still to be put in place, some nine years after the adoption of the new Constitution. In fact, it is a well-calculated manoeuvre that Zanu PF is used its political surrogate to recall and reverse the number of MDC Alliance elected officials in the provinces as part of a vain 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 a Mayor’s Forum that President Chamisa hosted in February 2020.

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 opposition 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 opposition received less money than the smaller Runde rural district council run by the Zanu PF. Similarly, the opposition-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.

Conclusion: It’s zero out of 15

As the above score-card shows, it’s zero out of 15 for Mr Mnangagwa. Judged against his own words, Mnangagwa’s tenure has been a tale of outright perfidy and lies. Indeed, his tenure has been 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.

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. 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.

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.

It’s a failed scorecard as the man’s rhetoric has been bust by a weird combination of incompetence, naked kies and a murderous instinct that is dismally not commensurate with modern modern statecraft. But as we stand on the cusp of a watershed election, the man is preparing a fresh bouquet of lies to sell to a despondent electorate.

Luke Tamborinyoka, a citizen from Domboshava, is a journalist by profession and an ardent political scientist. He is a change champion who serves as the deputy interim champion for Presidential Affairs in the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC). You can interact with him on his Facebook page or on the twitter handle @luke_tambo.