Open letter to the President of Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa. (Waldo Swiegers, Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa. (Waldo Swiegers, Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Dear Sir,

It is now two years since November 2017 when you and your allies deposed your former leader, the late Robert Mugabe. In the aftermath of the coup you made a lot of promises to Zimbabweans.

Being a Zimbabwean myself, the events were of concern to me given that it is the nationality that I was gifted at birth.

I remember the song "Kutonga kwaro Gamba" being blared in the streets as my kinsmen marched in the streets. The euphoria infected men and women, black and white, MDC and ZANU PF alike.

You asked the citizens to give you a chance. You promised reforms, political and economic. I remember you chanting the phrase "… jobs jobs and jobs…" in your speech at the ZANU-PF headquarters.

Two years have passed by and you're still giving speeches. Nothing has changed, except that life has become harder for Zimbabweans. The majority of Zimbabweans are now far worse off from what they were before the coup. Your Transitional Stabilisation Program (TSP) has created poverty for the man on the streets and prosperity exclusively for the ZANU-PF elites.

Mr Mnangagwa, I am a concerned citizen and I read your recent article published by CNBC on the 17th of November 2019. That you acceded that too many Zimbabweans are suffering is the only truthful statement I can attest to from your Op-Ed. The rest I cannot agree with you. My conscience does not allow me when I think of how much suffering you have inflicted upon Zimbabweans.

You claimed that you gave people their voices back. Frankly, the only people that got their voice back are the ZANU-PF Lacoste faction. The rest of Zimbabweans have no say in national matters. Why are all demonstrations against the government being blocked by the police? How is prohibition of constitutional rights to assemble and restriction of freedoms to expression granting people their voices?

As you are well aware Mr Mnangagwa, in our traditional African way it is uncalled for to call one's elder a liar.

Unfortunately today I am in that position that I must forsake the traps of our traditional way of doing things. In your Op-Ed you lied when you stated that criticism of the government president is no longer taboo. Why are Zimbabweans being stopped from voicing their dissent with your government? Why are civic and political activists being intimidated, harassed and tortured by state security?

Your claim that criticism of the government is no longer taboo is negated by the avalanche of people that have lost their lives at the hands of your government for protesting.

Many unfortunate incidents have been recorded since your premiership in August 2018. This happened again in January 2019; August 2019 and November 2019.

The cosmetic changes to draconian laws are an insult to Zimbabweans as nothing has been changed by the MOPO (Maintenance of Peace and Order) bill. Until we have genuine political reforms, we shall continue facing the pain and misery of a rogue state.

The lack of independent state institutions is evidence to your lack of commitment to be different from your predecessor.

The propaganda of blaming sanctions for the misery Zimbabweans are facing is falling on deaf ears.

What will it take for you to realise that empty propaganda cannot substitute genuine political and economic reforms? You need to actively resolve the corruption, incompetence, nepotism and human rights abuses happening on your watch.

Words and speeches are just empty and will not turn the country’s fortunes.

Your call to other nations is also falling on deaf ears. The spin mercenaries you have paid have not delivered. The western governments you desperately wanted to gaslight have seen through the charade.

The world has seen you for the charlatan that you are. How embarrassing that even your "all weather friends from the East" called out your Finance Minister for gross misstatement on his budget presentation.

That incident is an omen for you.

The writing is on the wall.

Remember the fate of Hector who failed to heed the good advice of Polydamas in Greek mythology.

Today, I write this open letter to you with the hope that perhaps you may reconsider your ways. Revisit the speech you gave outside the ZANU-PF headquarters on the eve of your first inauguration. Those words still ring in our ears. The promises you gave, the support you asked from us. Many believed in you and many gave you a chance. Is this how you repay their confidence?

The voice of the people spoke on 31 July 2018. The same voice is still speaking and it is growing louder by the day.

Ignore it at your peril.

Yours sincerely

Tinotenda Chihope

UK-based human rights activist 

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