Why Africa must call Zimbabwe to order now


Continued government crackdown on opponents not solving the problems

By Richard Mammah

Africa should be quite bothered about what is going on in Zimbabwe at the moment. It must call President Emmerson Mnangaga to order right now.

Following years of leadership crisis that led to the exit of former President Robert Mugabe, his former deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa stepped up to take his place.

At that time, some warned that ‘The Crocodile’ as the new leader was being casually called, would ultimately be up to no good. But Zimbabwe had many troubles and soon settled into an ‘anything but Mugabe’ mode.

As a sign of things to come, the coup plotters that had helped take out Mugabe and his ambitious wife, Grace, were soon to be elevated into command positions in the new administration; effectively inaugurating a diarchy.

With this formation in place, the resultant General Elections were to end in controversy. While the authorities declared Mnangagwa winner, his closest rival, opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa claimed victory. Mnangagwa pushed his way through and remains in power.

But given Zimbabwe’s long-running economic troubles and the parlous state of its economy, external help is plainly unavoidable at the moment. But getting that requires that Zimbabwe satisfy demands from potential helpers that it takes more steps into ensuring that it runs a more democratic, transparent and creative government.

Sadly Mnangagwa’s strong-arm diarchy is not allowing room for that. And its potential helpers are not overly encouraged.

For neighbouring Big Brother, South Africa, which has continued to harbour over a million Zimbabwean economic exiles, and which even provided a safe haven for Mnangagwa in his own exile days, the facts of its own economic challenges and the constraints imposed by the politics involved in getting President Cyril Ramaphosa elected in forthcoming presidential polls has constrained its ability to continue to almost endlessly help its neighbour.

At the peak of the nation’s economic woes during the Mugabe era, it not only signed an agreement allowing its neigbour use its own currency, the Rand as a domestic currency in that country, it equally loaned it its own Central Bank Governor to help run the Zimbawe Central Bank!

When Zimbabwe made one more request for a last-ditch 1.2 million dollars emergency bail-out in December however, the ‘rainbow nation’ could not help. And underscoring the debt of its financial challenges, Zimbabwe was forced to shortly after announce a fuel price increase, the same type that is almost now choking life out of the regime in Sudan.

In response, the Zimbabwe streets have become very restive and the government, blaming the opposition and labour unions for the challenge, is once more opening fire on its citizens. As ‘The Crocodile’ had helped Robert Mugabe do in the 1970s, history has once again come full circle. Africa must send a strong message to President Mnangagwa and his goons that this is not acceptable. If he cannot govern peacefully and creatively, he should simply pack up his bags and go!

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