By Richard Chidza
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has not been given the credit due to him as regards both economic and security sector reform, a retired opposition MDC official has said.
Former Bulawayo South lawmaker and MDC policy chief Eddie Cross said while he was not a fan of Mnangagwa, the President has set the country on a sound footing and was on the right direction.
Cross was speaking at the Cape Town Press Club Thursday at which he claimed South Africa and China had given their green-light to the coup that toppled former President Robert Mugabe in November 2017.
“Mnangagwa is committed to reform; he has not received sufficient recognition for what he has done. But he has to deal with recalcitrant elements in his party; intelligence sources suggest G40 buying weapons,” said Cross.
“South Africa agreed and China gave the coup a go-ahead; done extremely efficiently; police were disarmed; army took control; was legitimate, a military assisted transition not a coup because the population supported it.”
Mnangagwa won last year’s election with a slim 50.8% majority, beating opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa who came a close second with 44.3% and several challengers.
However, there was a clear disconnect between Mnangagwa’s narrow win and Zanu PF’s crushing two thirds majority in the legislative polls.
The Zanu PF leader claimed there was a plot to impeach him just after the elections.
Added Cross: “Army were two thirds of initial cabinet (post-coup); Mnangagwa, like (South Africa President Cyril) Ramaphosa, is a minority leader within his ruling party; G40 held 100 seats and were intent to remove him; but he survived the election by the skin of his teeth.”
In his speech, Cross said Mnangagwa had responded to decades long calls for security sector reform, a key demand by the MDC for years.
“Mnangagwa has reduced police hierarchy, fired the militia, the secret services; the security committee no longer running the politics; moving towards a civil democracy.
“Army is under civilian control now; former ZIPRA officers now the commanders,” the straight talking Cross said.
General Philip Valerio Sibanda, a wartime Zipra Commander, is now Commander Zimbabwe Defence Forces. Sibanda is highly respected as a professional soldier who sticks to his duties with little political interference.
On the economic front, Mnangagwa, according to Cross has also done well.
“Zimbabwe has gone from a 40% deficit to a balance of payments surplus; by end of next quarter Zim will have a floating currency.
“Amazing economic achievement done in nine months; (I am) not a fan of Mnangagwa who was part of the Gukurahundi but he is putting Zimbabwe on a new progressive path,” said the former MDC head of policy.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube claims Zimbabwe has recorded budget surpluses since December last year.
However, rival factions within Zanu PF and Ncube’s broken relationship with Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor John Mangudya, according to Cross, pose the greatest threats to Zimbabwe.
“The real threat to Zimbabwe now is not coup but the internal factions in the ruling party; eg Governor Reserve Bank against Finance Minister – this is destabilising the country,” he said.
Mnangagwa reportedly survived a poisoning scare at the height of the internal power struggles that rocked Zanu PF before the coup.
Cross said former First Lady Grace had been prepared to kill the then Vice President.
“Grace Mugabe was prepared to even murder Mnangagwa; he survived an assassination attempt; later fled,” said Cross.