(Last Updated on March 31, 2022 by zimdaily)
HARARE – THE high levels of intolerance witnessed in most parts of the country in the run-up to last week’s by-elections were enough proof that Zimbabwe is still far from being a mature democracy. If he has any conscience left within him, President Emmerson Mnangagwa must revisit his inauguration speech where he told the world that his new dispensation would be a complete departure from his predecessor the late Robert Mugabe’s administration, and find out where he has gone wrong.
Mnangagwa made a cocktail of promises when he assumed power in a military-assisted coup in November 2017, including a break from the Mugabe dictatorship.
But the run-up to the recent polls proved otherwise as there was an increase in violence against opposition supporters and other government critics.
Under Mugabe, Zimbabwe witnessed the abduction, invasion of property, arbitrary arrests and torture to squash dissent.
Mnangagwa has not only copied the same script, but has perfected it taking advantage of his party’s two-thirds parliamentary majority to pulverise the Constitution and control the Judiciary.
His government has also threatened to push through the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Bill meant to silence non-governmental organisations and human rights groups that continue to speak out against his administration’s abuse of power, corruption and human rights violations, among others.
Health workers have also been targeted in the Health Service Amendment Bill which seeks to bar them from demonstrating against poor working conditions.
The list is long with traditional leaders also being whipped to toe the Zanu PF line or face the axe.
It is, therefore, not surprising that Zimbabwe was adjudged as one of the 56 countries across the globe whose citizens are increasingly living under authoritarian leadership according to the latest 2022 Freedom House report.
The report evaluated the state of freedom in 195 countries and 15 territories across the globe during the year 2021, considering factors such as political rights and civil liberties to determine whether a country or territory has an overall status of free, partly free, or not free.
Zimbabwe was classified as one of the 44% of countries adjudged not free, while 41% and 15% of the countries were categorised as partly free and free respectively.
“Free and fair elections are a cornerstone of any democracy, and independent and transparent electoral processes are necessary to foster a competitive electoral environment and citizens’ trust in election integrity. It is essential that citizens be able to exercise their right to vote with relative ease. Special attention should be given to addressing discriminatory barriers to voting,” the report read in part.
But as things stand, hope for a reformed democratic Zimbabwe under Mnangagwa is fading as power retention — at all costs — informs the ruling party’s politics and policy.