Only time will tell if Mr Mnangagwa has changed

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Print this page Email A Friend!

This newspaper's thoughts on the despotic Robert Mugabe are well known. Indeed, our only surprise about last week's dramatic events in Zimbabwe that ended in him being deposed as president was that it took so long to happen.

To be clear, we cannot condone any action that tramples on democracy. However, we understand the anxiety that the military leaders must have felt on realising that Mr Mugabe was setting the stage for the creation of a dynasty with his ambitious and unpopular wife as his successor.

So, last Friday we watched and listened keenly to the address given by Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa after he was sworn in as the new Zimbabwean president.

In a nutshell, President Mnangagwa touched the right notes, laying out his vision to revitalise the country's ravaged economy. He promised to rule on behalf of all Zimbabweans and extended an olive branch to opponents in an apparent attempt to bridge the ethnic and political divisions that were brutally manipulated by Mr Mugabe over the 37 years he spent in power.

“My goal is to preside over a polity and run an Administration that recognises strength in our diversity as a people, hoping that this position and well-meant stance will be reciprocated and radiated to cover all our groups, organisations and communities. We dare not squander the moment. At the end of the day, whatever we do or choose not to do must be intended to benefit all our people,” he said.

Mr Mnangagwa also promised to accelerate the establishment of Special Economic Zones in order, he said, to attract investment and generate increased exports.

“The maintenance of economic stability and confidence amongst the transacting public, the local business community and foreign investors remains key to our reform agenda,” he added.

As we said, he spoke well, even promising that elections would be held next year as scheduled. Indeed, since his return to Zimbabwe, Mr Mnangagwa has been preaching democracy, tolerance, and respect for the rule of law.

Some Zimbabweans, we are told, are prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt in relation to his economic plans, even as they accept the difficulty his Administration will have in trying to correct the country's 90 per cent unemployment and the fact that its banks basically have no cash.

Word out of Zimbabwe, though, is that other citizens question whether President Mnangagwa can really bring change, especially in the areas of human rights, given that he has a dark past serving for decades in Mr Mugabe's Cabinet.

After all, President Mnangagwa has been associated with some of the worst atrocities committed since Independence in 1980 when his ZANU-PF party came to power.

He was in charge of Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organisation during the 1980s civil conflict, in which thousands of Zimbabweans were killed. However, he has denied any role in the massacres, and blamed the army. In addition, he has been accused of masterminding attacks on Opposition supporters after the 2008 election which was marked by politically motivated violence and intimidation.

Maybe, though, Mr Mnangagwa has changed. Only time will tell whether he is really Mugabe in new clothing. We will likely get a signal of his intentions this week when he names his Cabinet.




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon