Mnangagwa insists he is democratising Zimbabwe

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By Idah Mhetu

DESPITE great pessimism at home and abroad, President Emmerson Mnangagwa insists Zimbabwe is on the path to democracy.

In an address to the nation ahead of this year’s Heroes and Defence Forces holidays, Mnangagwa said the pace of reforms has been “remarkable” and his government has the political will to address gaps in Zimbabwe’s democratic environment.

“We have signposted fundamental legislative changes which are set to address and redress the democratic deficits which have held us back in the past to create a new environment where our people enjoy fundamental rights even beginning to take them for granted in the Second Republic,” said Mnangagwa.

The Zanu PF leader took power from long-time ruler Robert Mugabe on the back of a military coup in November 2017 before scrapping through an election in which he was taken to the wire by opposition politician the MDC’s Nelson Chamisa.

Chamisa insists he won the election and has waved the legitimacy flag around Mnangagwa’s leadership despite losing a Constitutional Court petition seeking to overturn last year’s presidential result.

While Mugabe was accused of human rights abuses and stifling democratic debate, Mnangagwa, a key enforcer of the former’s 37 year-iron-fisted rule, campaigned on a pledge to widen the political landscape and repeal “toxic laws” blamed for investor flight.

Mnangagwa, in his address, said the repeal of bad laws is well and truly underway.

“As I address you, bad laws are being repealed and are set to be replaced by good ones which comply with our celebrated Constitution, and international tenets of good governance,” he said.

The President added that laws facing repeal include the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), with legislative processes now at an advanced stage.

“No piece of legislation which is deemed offensive, restrictive or undemocratic will be spared. I am determined to uphold my pledge to bring about a durable democratic dispensation under the second republic,” Mnangagwa told Zimbabweans.

The Zanu PF leader said the transition from Mugabe to his rule which had promised to be “flawless” had been marred by two bloody incidences in which over 20 people were killed by the army.