Not yet uhuru in Zimbabwe
The exit of Robert Gabriel Mugabe as president of Zimbabwe signifies only change of guards, but not freedom for the people of the Southern African country. AJIBOLA AMZAT writes.
Two youths sitting at the booth of a moving car displayed a brown carton board with inscription: “Rest in peace Mugabe”. A black cross was painted right above the inscription to drive home the message.They were among the jubilant Zimbabweans that trooped to the streets of Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe on Tuesday to celebrate the end of President Robert Mugabe’s 37 years rule.
Most citizens of the Southern Africa country have for so long waited for that moment, and so have the rest of the world.At last, the hour has come. Zimbabweans are now free from the grip of a man who had held their destiny for decades; but not from the men who kept Mugabe in power for that long. Among them is the man, General Constatino Chinwega, who eventually led the bloodless coup that toppled Mugabe. He was one of the president’s men, who led struggle for the independence of Zimbabwe against the British in the 70s.
Despite failing basic officers course at the Zimbabwe Staff College, Chinwega enjoyed steady rise and eventually became a general in the army.And so was the sacked vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa who met and befriended Mugabe in prison during the struggle.
Later, he headed both the civil and military divisions of ZANU-PF.And when Zimbabwe, formerly known as Rhodesia, gained independence in 1980, Mugabe became prime minister while Mnangagwa was appointed the first minister of national security.
From then till last week, Mnangagwa had held one important position or the other in government while Chinwega became commander of Zimbabwe Defence Force.
Until recently when table turned against them, Chinwega and Mnangagwa were staunch loyalists and enforcer of President Mugabe’s anti-people’s policy.They were both influential members of the government that helped collapse the economy of the former British colony.
At some point, 95 percent of the workforce in Zimbabwe was unemployed, according to Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions estimates, forcing as many as 3 million people into exile.Zimbabweans who could not escape the country in search of greener pasture abroad live in abject poverty, but not Mugabe and his acolytes.
The inflation rate became so high that U.S. dollars became a legal tender in Zimbabwe, and over 1.5 million people of Zimbabwe became food insecure, according to the 2016 World Food Programme (WFP) reports.
And more than half (56 percent) of all children between the ages of 6 and 59 months suffer from anaemia. The leadership of ZANU-PF and the military in which Mnangagwa and Chinwega are key decision makers superintend over the killings of over 10, 000 Indebele minority group in the 80s.Till date, none of the key actors have answered for that genocide.
Today, Mnangagwa and Chinwega are the face of new regime in Zimbabwe, yet they both worked hard together with other hierarchies in Mugabe’s government to suppress opposition in several elections, and limit the democratic choice of Zimbabweans.
In 2008, not fewer than 150 supporters of the opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were reportedly killed and several party women were gang raped in a violence-driven election. Despite the intervention of 40 senior African leaders including the United Nations Secretary General, Banki –Moon, Mugabe and the veterans ignored the call of the eminent Africans.
Mnangagwa would later be announced as vice president in 2013. In fact, he was considered to be Mugabe’s chosen successor until he clashed with Grace Mugabe who also had a plan to succeed her husband.So, the crisis in Zimbabwe should not be interpreted to mean anything else but a succession battle within Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party, a lecturer at the National University of Science and Technology, Bulawayo told The Guardian.
“[This] has nothing to do with improving the livelihood of ordinary people. The same Mnangagwa who is supposed to be our liberator has committed crimes against humanity,” said the lecturer who declined to be identified because he works for the government-owned university.Notwithstanding, Mugabe has finally resigned after several hours of stonewalling, and Zimbabweans are faced with life after their patriarch. But will the change bring freedom that the people have so long waited for? That is the question the paperboard-wielding youths on the streets of Harare will have to deal with in the future.
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