Prior to the Zimbabwe’s 2018 harmonized elections, there were bold pronouncements from Zanu PF heavyweights that President Emmerson Mnangagwa is a soldier who stands ready to shoot for power.
Given the fact that Mnangagwa had ascended to power through a military coup in November 2017, there were fears of bloodshed ahead of the 2018 elections.
True to the word of his Zanu PF proxies, the military were deployed against unarmed civilians protesting against electoral theft in July 2018.
An estimated six civilians were killed in cold blood and what followed was a series of human rights violations that were perpetrated by the army.
Cases of abduction, rape, torture and arbitrary arrests were reported.
The military proved to be Mnangagwa’s greatest weapon to cling to power against the wishes of the electorate.
Recently, there was a declaration from the Deputy Chief Secretary, Presidential Communications, George Charamba that the military will not allow opposition rule in the country.
This is not the first time that we have heard such declarations from Zanu PF politicians.
Charamba’s declaration came following the electoral victory by Zambia’s opposition party the United Party for National Development (UPND) and the smooth handover of power after former President, Edgar Lungu conceded defeat.
To add on to this, Mnangagwa was to later declare that thinking that what happened in Zambia would happen in Zimbabwe is a case of day dreaming.
The declarations attracted widespread condemnation and in an effort to correct the damage, Mnangagwa was to later acknowledge that SADC states should emulate what happened in Zambia- smooth handover of power.
This was damage control by Mnangagwa ahead of the inauguration of Zambia’s new President, Hakainde Hichilema.
But the damage had already been done. Mnangagwa probably knew very well he had to retract his statement ahead of the inauguration ceremony in Zambia, where he was invited to witness a smooth transition that he had vowed would not happen in Zimbabwe.
Given the manner in which he ascended to power-through a military coup, the militarization of key state institutions in Zimbabwe, shrinking of the democratic space, weaponization of the judiciary, draconian legislation among other dictatorial tendencies, Mnangagwa is least qualified person to talk about smooth handover of power and respect for the people’s will.
His was a last minute effort to undo the damage that resulted from pronouncements that exposed himself and his proxies for what they really are.
After Mnangagwa’s retraction, Charamba was to later on label Hichilema a ‘sellout’, and the discord between Charamba and his boss leaves a lot to be desired.
The pronouncements by Mnangagwa and his proxies should serve as a reminder to SADC and pro democracy forces within the region that Zimbabwe remains under a military state in which there is no regard for fundamental rights and the will of the people- including election outcomes.
It is thus incumbent upon SADC and pro-democracy forces within the region to continuously keep an eye on the Zimbabwean crisis.