By Anna Chibamu
A YEAR after Zimbabweans massed onto the streets of Harare celebrating the military ouster of long-term ruler Robert Mugabe, many feel betrayed by the so-called New Dispensation, a political analyst has said.
Mugabe, by then a doddering if defiant nonagenarian, had ruled Zimbabwe from independence in 1980 and looking to extend his 37 years in power when the military and his ruling Zanu PF party turned on him.
The veteran leader resigned under pressure to be replaced by a vice president he had fired two weeks earlier at the behest of his increasingly powerful wife, Grace, and her G40 allies in Zanu PF.
Successor Emmerson Mnangagwa vowed a “New Dispensation”, promising greater political freedoms and an improvement to people’s livelihoods after an economic crisis lasting nearly two decades.
But twelve months into the new dispensation, little has changed apart from the faces at the cabinet table and the occupant of State House.
“Nothing has really changed as the populace continues to suffer with no prospects of economy improvement,” political analyst Ernest Mudzengi told NewZimbabwe.com in an interview Friday.
“When people celebrated Mugabe’s departure, the main issue was the economy. People were worried about continued suffering and that is where we still are. We are still having more of the same; the old system is here with us.”
After consolidating his hold on power with a hotly disputed victory in the July 30 ballot, Mnangagwa’s post-election government has introduced tough measures which have seen prices of basic commodities sky-rocket while incomes remain stagnant and are eroded by inflation.
“Look at prices in the supermarkets; they have skyrocketed beyond the reach of many,” Mudzengi stated.
“Some are even saying Mugabe was much better than the current leader. Mugabe intervened when prices went up by even a small margin.
“Today, our politicians are quiet; Mnangagwa cannot even explain why we are in such a mess.
“When he assumed power, he was ground-breaking, moving from place to place buying chicken pieces at public places but currently he has just disappeared.”
Austerity spares the powerful
The government has said the austerity measures are needed to put the country’s economy back on a path to recovery.
But Mudzengi said the austerity measures were targeting people living on the breadline.
“He (Mnangagwa) tells us there are austerity measures; which austerity measures? Austerity measures on a people who have never been on the level of having anything.
“The politicians must be seen in the framework of austerity measures, but these continue to be in their luxuries.”
Mudzengi also condemned what he described as a grudge approach by the Mnangagwa regime with regard to legislative reform as well as fighting corruption.
Some of the economic policies also ignore the fundamental structural problems and, instead, seek to address the symptoms.
“We have listened to the President coming up with laws that deal with the so-called money changers or illegal forex dealers recently,” said Mudzengi.
“That is a matter of dealing with symptoms not the fundamentals. Surely, when you look at these laws, they take us way back to history.
“They are outdated, not relevant to the current framework. We are in a multi-currency environment and someone is being charged for selling their goods in US Dollars. So where is the multi-currency system?
“We assumed President Mnangagwa would take us away from that but, we still have the same old system.”
The coup, Mudzengi added, set a bad president for the country.
“The coup was not necessary at all. Having a history of a coup is not good for the country.”
Following his inglorious ouster from power, Mugabe has hardly been seen in public apart from two interviews he gave with local and international media.
Despite denouncing Mnangagwa and vowing he would not vote for his former protege in the July 30 elections, Mugabe appeared to grudgingly accept the power transition after the disputed vote.