PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration, still only two years old, has constantly been found under the glare of human rights defenders’ microscope who question his commitment to protecting the rights of the weak and citizens in general.
Mnangagwa, like his predecessor the late Robert Mugabe who ironically was his mentor for a staggering half a century, has shown a disconcerting willingness to ignore court orders and that speaks volumes of the kind of administration he envisages.
A week or so ago the High Court in Harare ruled in favour of medical practitioners who had approached the bench seeking an order to compel government to provide safety wear to workers on the frontline of the fight against the coronavirus epidemic. Mnangagwa has not said a word about the ruling or shown a willingness to stick to it.
As if that was not enough, another High Court judge ruled that government must provide literature on the COVID-19 pandemic in Braille for visually-impaired citizens. As usual, Mnangagwa has been mum on this. His ministers have said nothing, neither have they made any indication on how they will seek to obey this order. Meanwhile, the danger posed to this vulnerable group by the coronavirus continues to grow with each passing day.
When he came to power in 2017 on the back of a military-backed change of guard, Mnangagwa promised to be “a listening President”. He has repeated this on many occasions since then. Mnangagwa also promised not only to respect human rights and the rule of law in what was supposed to be a break with his “master’s dark” near 37-year rule. However, the events in the past two weeks and before send the wrong message and we are worried that he could be slowly sliding into that dark hole that we all wished he would not.
Before we know it we will be back to factory settings. It is now that we all should shout and stop this. Government needs to learn to obey court orders and show citizens that no one, not even the government is above the law. The kind of behaviour that Mnangagwa and his administration are showing only creates one thing: Chaos.
Our heroic health workers some of whom have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service of the motherland must be protected at all costs. Government has indicated it intends to test all of them to check if they have been infected with the coronavirus, but this seems to be taking forever.
The messages warning the public of the existence of the pandemic must reach everyone and every corner of the country. It would be an abrogation of duty if Mnangagwa were to fail on this and a life was to be lost. Life is sacrosanct. As a constitutional democracy, we ought to abide by the dictates of the Constitution and uphold court orders.