Guest Column

False hope and illusions as Mnangagwa announces cabinet

2017-12-01 14:38

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Patson Dzamara

On Tuesday, 21 November 2017, Robert Mugabe finally gave in to pressure from his own party and resigned as president of Zimbabwe.

His resignation was welcomed with massive celebrations across the country. This was the moment most Zimbabweans had yearned and waited for. 

When the news broke, I was driving past the parliament building and the commotion caught my attention. There were many people waiting for the impeachment outcome in Itai Dzamara Square (Africa Unity Square).

I too, joined the wild celebrations but sadly, a few minutes into the celebrations I broke down and wept like a baby when I remembered my brother Itai, who was abducted by the brutal Mugabe regime. I retreated and spent that entire night in bed while almost everyone was celebrating the fall of Mugabe.

I can safely conclude that this development led to the rise of hope among illusions in most Zimbabweans' minds. But if it is anything worth classifying under hope then it is false hope.

To many, that was it. A new Zimbabwe had been delivered to them with the 'help' of the defence forces.

The most painful experience I endured in all this was being told, "Happy new Zimbabwe" by my fellow countrymen. I even attended prayer sessions where some excitable pastors told people to praise God for a new Zimbabwe. Something in me kept on saying that it was not yet a new Zimbabwe and I always made it a point to register that whenever I had an opportunity to do so privately or publicly.

Several of my friends and relatives in the diaspora asked me whether I thought it was the right time for them to return home and my answer was always an emphatic no. I was adamant that removing Mugabe the person did not mean an automatic death of Mugabe the system. It was just a moment of false hope and illusions.

The emergence of pseudo heroes

While the bizarre happenings unfolded, an extremely flagrant precedence was set. Some very strange pseudo heroes emerged: the defence forces generals, soldiers, war veterans and Emmerson Mnangagwa. In fact, General Constantino Chiwenga earned himself a sexy nickname in the process. Some started calling him General Bae.

Well, if my girlfriend had called him that, or if she had posed for a selfie with soldiers, that would have been the end of our relationship.

For successfully wrestling power in an unorthodox and unconstitutional manner from Mugabe, these individuals became heroes. For as long they removed Mugabe, nobody seemed to care about any other aspect. To many they were/are heroes who brought freedom, but I persistently repeated that Zimbabwe had been called upon to make an impossible choice between Satan and Lucifer.

I am still wondering how posing for photos with soldiers was decoded as a sign of freedom by my fellow countrymen. The irony is shocking and disturbing. The excitement of the moment blinkered most from what was really happening.

I shudder to think that very few of my countrymen really knew what had hit us at that point; that it was the beginning of an undesirable journey towards a military state, of course, with the aid of a meticulously positioned soundtrack from some camp called the military touch movement. That gifted voice also rode on the tide and, yes, most concluded he was the man of the moment. 

The epic entrance and branding of Lucifer

After Mugabe's resignation, Zanu-PF quickly installed Mnangagwa as its new leader. It was a quick transition from Satan to Lucifer, or from fire to fire.

Mnangagwa returned from self-imposed exile to an anticipating nation. His inaugural speech was prolific. He told Zimbabweans what he knew they wanted to hear and that did the job. That speech caused most fence sitters to incline towards him. Even his critics gave him a thumbs up for that speech. It was an epic entrance.

As soon as Mnangagwa's presidency began, a massive branding exercise was set in motion. He seems to have invested in agenda-setting gatekeepers, especially on social media. They have been working overtime to brand him, even creating falsehoods, and it’s working as evidenced by the number of people getting hoodwinked.

Lucifer is being projected as God – a man of principle, discipline and action, notwithstanding his compromised past and present. Anyone who dares to speak out against him is trolled and many have succumbed. Recent political developments around the world reveal that social media has revolutionised the political terrain. It must never be underestimated. Indeed, if not careful, people will end up thinking that Lucifer is God. 

The glorious fall of Lucifer

After all the cosmetics and the romance of new found, artificial love, our own Lucifer, Mnangagwa was flying high. He had been presented as a Messiah and even those who were initially indifferent were now willing to give him a chance.

Just like the Lucifer in the Bible, we knew it was a matter of time before his glorious fall. Fortunately, for some of us who have been projecting that curve, much to the dismay of most of our countrymen, vindication came early. Last night Mnangagwa announced his cabinet.

For some reasons I consider strange, considering the optimism and vote of confidence Mnangagwa had received from Zimbabweans, he chose to erode that with his first major act as president.

He appointed a strange cabinet made up of the same old, clueless and tired faces who helped Mugabe to run Zimbabwe down. He did that despite the fact that Zimbabweans' hunger for change had forced them to give him the benefit of the doubt, even though he really didn't deserve it.

Unthinkable and overambitious as it may have been, most Zimbabweans were prepared to make it work and give their nation a chance to move forward. By appointing an uninspiring cabinet of failures and thieves, Mnangagwa has quickly climbed down from the artificially inflated Messiah pedestal, back to the Lucifer pedestal where he belongs.

Mnangagwa's cabinet has only two women and not a single youth representative. Perhaps he appointed this cabinet due to the limited timeframe available before the 2018 elections. The timeframe narrative is valid but that still doesn't undo the damage done by this move. It will take a lot more for Mnangagwa to undo the damage done by this move and return to anything approaching his earlier popularity.

Going forward, it is too early to write Mnangagwa off. This own goal he scored has just trimmed him back to his actual size. He has a lot to prove and he has an election to win in 2018.

The opposition has been serendipitously given a new lease of life and it must be utilised to the fullest. More work has to be done. Aluta continua. A new and better Zimbabwe is possible in our lifetime.

- Patson Dzamara is a leadership coach, author and analyst based in Harare. 

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  emmerson mnangagwa  |  zimbabwe  |  cabinet
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