ANALYSIS: Moses Matenga
“There are complex challenges in Zimbabwe … We know there are serious and seemingly intractable political factors that might need attention, in fact, that needs attention if solutions are to be effective or implementable. The political formations in Zimbabwe remain at loggerheads and have apparent deep antipathy toward each other which makes joint decision-making and planning extremely difficult,” said South Africa International Relations and Co-operation minister Naledi Pandor on November 18, 2019 at a symposium on the Best Path Towards a Prosperous Zimbabwe at the University of South Africa in Pretoria.
Pandor’s message came exactly two years after Emmerson Mnangagwa assumed power as President in November 2017 following a military coup that deposed long time ruler, the late Robert Mugabe.
Upon assuming power, Mnangagwa premised his message on rebuilding Zimbabwe, insisting on the need to “let bygones be bygones” and his swearing in was attended by Mugabe’s long-time nemesis, Morgan Tsvangirai (the late MDC leader), a clear sign that Mnangagwa meant well.
Two years down the line, all hope is slowly fading, and Mnangagwa is leading a deeply divided nation, plagued with economic challenges that observers insist, require a political solution.
Mugabe’s loyalists, better known as the G40 cabal, including former ministers, Saviour Kasukuwere, Jonathan Moyo, Patrick Zhuwao and Walter Mzembi, among others, remain exiled, fleeing possible persecution and prosecution at the hands of Mnangagwa.
Chamisa is on record describing Mnangagwa as having betrayed Tsvangirai after having earlier agreed to a “transitional mechanism” with him as part of the transition.
“Tsvangirai told me that ‘Chamisa, we are now going to help remove the poverty caused by Mugabe, but the assurance I have is that we are going to have a transitional authority’,” Chamisa was quoted as saying.
“I said to him, this was a good thing, but asked him if he was sure about the people he was dealing with and he said ‘let us give them time’. We gave them time and they betrayed my old man.”
According to a leaked intelligence report in early 2017, Mnangagwa and Tsvangirai allegedly engaged in secret talks to form an arrangement post-Mugabe, with Tsvangirai telling Reuters in June of that year that he would not rule out a coalition with political opponents, such as Mnangagwa, and wanted white farmers to come back into a “positive role”.
Tsvangirai supported the military intervention and Mnangagwa’s takeover, even rallying his supporters for the action at Parliament in the days Mugabe was about to be impeached.
Mnangagwa acted as if he meant well even by visiting an incapacitated Tsvangirai later on at his Highlands mansion, a sign that made many believe, the unifier was in town.
But alas, Mnangagwa pushed for polls and opted to go it alone, and it is that decision observers say which led to the prevailing socio-economic crisis that was to be born out of the unresolved July 2018 elections, and there is no hope for Zimbabwe as it stands.
In Chamisa’s words, had Mnangagwa not betrayed Tsvangirai and implemented the agreed transitional mechanism, the story would have been different.
Mnangagwa’s woes started after the July 31 harmonised elections, where the Zanu PF leader won, but his victory was challenged.
Moyo, a former government spin-doctor, claims Mnangagwa lost to Chamisa and evidence is supposedly contained in his book Excelgate, which was set to be launched last week before suspected Zanu PF supporters interrupted it, chasing out guests, including diplomats.
As Zimbabwe waited for results of the delayed presidential election results, soldiers shot and killed six people in Harare, injuring scores in the process after opposition supporters took to the streets protesting the delay.
A commission of inquiry into the killings led by former South African President Kgalema Monthlante called for unity among political actors and up to now, this and other recommendations are yet to be fulfilled.
Another huge dent on Mnangagwa’s administration was to come on January 14, hours after he sparked a fire that would lead to at least 17 deaths, more than 80 sustaining gunshot injuries, with more than 300 cases of torture at the hands of the police, the military and Central Intelligence Organisation operatives.
Mnangagwa made a surprise announcement of a 150% hike in fuel prices that led to violent protests across the country.
Shortly after making the announcement, Mnangagwa flew to Russia, but had to cut short the trip following the widely condemned attacks on civilians.
The January shootings were to be the beginning of a tough year for Zimbabweans, characterised by week-in, week-out price hikes of fuel, cash shortages, doctors’ and nurses’ strikes and hospital closures, among other challenges.
Over half the population is facing starvation caused by drought and a wobbly economy, with ordinary citizens evidently losing faith in the ruling party’s ability to resolve the crisis.
In its latest central committee report, Zanu PF stated that the economy remains a “latent security” threat, but blamed the United States, the MDC, some civic society organisations and even drought for its failure.
“The most latent security threat that has grave consequences is the unstable economy which is largely propelled by the thriving parallel market (black market),” the report by the party’s national security department read.
The report further stated that ordinary Zimbabweans have lost confidence in the direction the economy was going and were “angry”, while government also took to blaming natural disasters for the crisis.
“Formal trading prices are determined by the parallel market exchange rate which has been sharply rising on a daily basis. This has resulted in inflation also rising to unprecedented levels. Prices of all commodities and services have followed suit to unsustainable levels. Most people are failing to make ends meet, so are poverty levels that are rising very much throughout the country. As a result, anger is brewing among the citizens, while there is loss of confidence on the direction the economy is taking,” the Zanu PF central committee report said.
“Owing to the incessant price hikes of commodities, food security situation is exacerbated by the fact that there were poor harvests experienced due to the El-nino induced drought.”
Zanu PF lamented the high unemployment in the formal sector due to company closures, and raised fears that unemployed graduates can be used by detractors to work against the ruling party.
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition blamed all this on the incumbent leadership that focuses on pettiness, giving the much-publicised divorce of Mnangagwa’s lieutenants, Vice-Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi as examples
“The most unfortunate thing that we are lacking as a country is leadership,” Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition spokesperson Marvellous Khumalo said.
“Instead of the national leadership to focus on addressing the economic challenges that we have, the social, political and other related challenges that are bedevilling the country at the moment, we are witnessing a host of the sideshows taking place. The arrest of Marry Chiwenga, all this is being done and is raking attention from the leadership and the country at large yet we have important things, bread and butter issues to attend to,” he said.
“It is sad.”
Chiwenga is embroiled in a nasty divorce with his wife of eight years, Marry, and so far, a lot has been exposed and the VP is likely to be kept busy at the courts in 2020, joining Mohadi who has had violent confrontations with his estranged wife, Tambudzani, including an incident whereby the Vice-President chased after her at their Beitbridge home, armed with an axe and threatening to kill her.
Chiwenga accuses his wife of wanting to kill him while he was hospitalised in South Africa.
Marry, who is also accused of fraud and money-laundering involving close to US$2 million, was remanded in custody to December 30, but has made a High Court application for bail.
This comes after a lengthy absence from the political scene by Chiwenga, who was receiving treatment in China following suspected poisoning.
In Mnangagwa’s short reign, the police and military have launched a massive crackdown across the country, which has also seen MDC supporters being violently dispersed during gatherings in what the opposition party describe as “an unofficial ban” of the party and closure of the democratic space.
Several people, most of them ordinary Zimbabweans, were injured, while others were arrested last month ahead of Chamisa’s Hope of the Nation Address that was quashed by the police.
Chamisa was to survive an incident in which he claimed to have had gunshots targeted at him last month during a tree planting event in Marondera, although the police claimed otherwise.
But in the entire crisis, Chamisa yesterday said he would push for change in 2020.
Recently, he was also quoted as saying something would happen to change the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans by May 2020.
“My biggest Christmas gift is the hope I see in 2020. Change will come, if it doesn’t come, we go and get it for the people,” Chamisa said.
His statement also comes as former South African President Thabo Mbeki jetted into Harare last week to meet almost all political actors who included Mnangagwa, Chamisa, Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) and also with the churches on a “listening exercise” to understand the challenges affecting Zimbabwe.
Mbeki has promised to come back for more talks before year end.
While Mbeki has brought renewed hope to suffering Zimbabweans, with Chamisa warming up to possible dialogue with his nemesis convened by a neutral interlocutor, Mnangagwa dashed the hope by insisting that there would be no talks outside Polad, a grouping the main opposition party has sworn never to join.
Political analyst Eldred Masunungure thinks it is too early to celebrate.
Mbeki was at the centre of talks between Mugabe and Tsvangirai that led to the Global Political Agreement of 2009 that saw Tsvangirai becoming Prime Minister in Mugabe’s government, an arrangement that led to some brief stability before it ended in 2013.
Meanwhile, Kasukuwere has thrown his hat into the opposition political ring, vowing to challenge Mnangagwa if he chooses to answer to calls by a movement dubbed “Tyson Wabantu” that is pushing for him to lead.
Said Kasukuwere of the situation in the country: “It is not hatred of each other that will take our country out of this challenge, but a need to collectively confront the elephant in the room.
The pain in our society is deep and sharp. Let’s accept our failings and correct our steps. It’s the economy and politics.”