Whither Mnangagwa, how tactful art thou?

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THE plight that we read time and again of some former government senior officials after leaving their posts leaves a lot to be desired. It leaves ample space for validating views that government functionaries get by through political patronage which is soft on the tongue than using the right word – corruption – or more specifically abuse of office.

Corruption is easy gains, which easily go. The thirst for more usually leads to a waterloo, as the thief fails to control both his amassing and consumption. The clever ones steal and invest to cleanse their ill gains, some get away with it but only, if the government remains their friend. The story is the same even in the world of sport. There are hundreds of football stars who wallowed in poverty after hanging their boots. Whilst there was a lot to emulate in their heydays on the pitch for our young kids, the same cannot be said about their lives after the pitch. Shingi Kawondera, David Mkandawire, the list goes on.

Is it not surprising that after all his 34 years in government, Didymus Mutasa went broke in just under three years? With all the influence he had, let alone salaries above the rest in the country and perks, Mutasa failed to make hay whilst the sun shone. Is it not unfortunate that Samuel Undenge, the now infamous former energy minister who controversially abused his office cutting corners for the benefit of Chivayo in the Gwanda power project that has now become a national embarrassment, and is now struggling to sustain his children’s education just months out of office.

Do we all not have questions as to how many of these men and women fail to set up streams of income outside government and party patronage like the rest of us? Yet such men and women without vision of tomorrow are the ones Zimbabweans allowed to lead them and shape their future. It is simple, vaifunga vachadya nekusingaperi (they thought the gravy train is theirs forever). Can this also explain why the old man ignored the hardships of the ordinary people no matter how loud the cries were?

And talking of the old man, it never dawned on him that one day in his ripe old life, he would be without state powers. The man still wakes up and wears a tie and suit even though he spends most of his days inside his residential yard. It has not yet sunk in. It will however sink in; Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans have moved on as ED responded to Mugabe’s last week press conference utterances. Mr Mugabe, it is time to rest and write memoirs. The world would be excited to read some of the rationale behind your decisions over the years.

History will record that it is under Mugabe that unemployment reached alarming levels, turning the vast numbers of university graduates to selling bananas at copacabana. History will record that it is under Mugabe that Zimbabwe isolated itself from the international community, a feat which no other country has done and succeeded to do in history. History will record that it is under Mugabe that a once-thriving modern African economy collapsed and poverty reached alarming levels defying its own Millennium Development Goal targets. It is under Mugabe that a Reserve Bank governor became the de facto leader of government business and effectively ran the constitutional State between 2003-2013.

It is under Mugabe that a non-constitutional office of first lady ran the country and gave notes to state vice presidents. It is under Mugabe that government corruption spiralled and yet no person was brought to account, his only response was to keep the files in his office to use as a tool in controlling their dissent. It is under Mugabe that police wreaked havoc on the roads taking the little from the poor to fatten themselves, yet he did nothing about it. What is Mugabe’s reason in fighting to bounce back? What does he have to offer Zimbabweans today that he could not offer in 37 years?

Whither Mnangagwa, how tactful art  thou?

Living apt and true to his game-name, the crocodile, only that this time everyone is wondering what is real about the crocodile’s tears. While the road has ended for Mugabe, Mnangagwa thanks his gods that he still has his hands on the deck, rewriting history along the way. Mnangagwa has done quite a bit to restore investor confidence in the country and sanitise his decades soiled image. At least Mnangagwa has done something about the problems that we all faced and is eager, well meant or tactful, to open a new chapter for Zimbabwe.

But sure enough, the crocodile nametag has been his biggest setback. The world awaits with suspicious anticipation; the crocodile’s biggest test will be the holding of free and fair elections. The world does not trust him on this, but he wants to prove them wrong. Zimbabweans do not trust him on this too, he cannot afford to prove them wrong. If he does, it may well be his sunset.

The wounds of his association with Mugabe will not heal anytime soon. But the man has at least done something. The pace is not inspiring after decades of everything falling apart but realising that pace is dictated by various factors even beyond his control, at least pace has surely started. The Generals in suits and camouflage want to have it their way, that is why the rope they have on Mnangagwa is not long. They see themselves beyond Mnangagwa. They have the count of Mnangagwa’s days in office too.

Nobody really wants to see the perpetuation of this regime, in suit or camouflage hidden in suit. The people of Zimbabwe want new blood, new wine in new wineskins. The people will not get new blood if the opposition’s long history in the trenches is all they rely on for emotional trigger, hoping that translates to the ballot. The people will vote for the devil if the devil is the only organised one on the paper. After all, the devil has a history of blessing his own children with shiny things too.

The opposition must shape up if they want to survive. The sheer opposition numbers in 2013 failed to overwhelm the rigging machinery as Morgan Tsvangirai had hoped for and stubbornly placed confidence in. Zanu PF is desperate for legitimacy, for sanitisation, but they are certainly not stupid. The elections will go on with or without the opposition, reforms are at their mercy too. All the regime needs to do is prove that conditions favoured a conducive environment for free and fair elections. The discount, is in the objectivity of that conclusion.

Robert Sigauke is a Legal Advisor, Author, Entrepreneur and Political Analyst based in Johannesburg. He can be contacted at  Facebook page