BULAWAYO – ZAPU leader Dumiso Dabengwa says he will not refrain from criticising President Emmerson Mnangagwa whom he accuses of having plucked a leaf from former Zanu PF leader Robert Mugabe who wielded too much power.
In his end of year message, the former Cabinet minister suggested that Mnangagwa could even be worse than his predecessor.
“The massive powers enjoyed by Mugabe have been inherited intact by Mnangagwa, who happens to have been an architect of some of them and has been a loyal apprentice,” Dabengwa said.
“Lack of an inclusive agenda meant falling back on the inherited arsenal of presidential powers and demonstration of continuity even in making of appointments.
“Significantly, the trend of politicising the military was taken to new heights, with serving officers moving into key political offices without a cooling period,” he said.
Dabengwa said Mnangagwa’s lack of finesse in statecraft was exposed when he appointed his Cabinet, which apart from overlooking the youths and women had the same deadwood as during Mugabe’s time.
Mnangagwa’s Cabinet was received with mixed feelings across political, religious, social and academic circles.
“There are many who were surprised at the choice (retention) of Cabinet ministers from elements who had poor reputations even by the standards of the Mugabe regime, suspected of shady deals.
“However, this failure to escape the Mugabe past was in some ways inevitable once the emerging change was presented as a Zanu PF affair backed by the military and other parts of the security sector,” he said.
The Zapu president also went on to raise the highly contested issue of devolution where the current government has failed to do things differently from the Mugabe government.
“There have been no signals from the newly-installed regime of President Mnangagwa that fundamental change in the structure of government along the lines of the 2013 Constitution will get priority,” he said.
He added that devolution of power to the provinces needs to move from general platitudes to become a key feature of how all parts of the country will set local priorities and share in their resource base.
“There are many examples of marginalisation and asset-stripping that became possible only because of central control, patronage and abuse of unchecked authority.
“This is why our party retains the implementation of devolution provisions in the Constitution as a top demand and platform for change,” said Dabengwa.
The former Zipra intelligence supremo also highlighted the need for reforms to provide a chance to outgrow the backward Mugabe regime.
“Former president Mugabe will be remembered for resisting or stalling on reforms that were due according to the Constitution adopted in 2013. Notable lack of progress is evident in the establishment and operation of independent commissions,” he said.
“The government of President Mnangagwa can redeem itself by ensuring that the Human Rights and the Peace and Reconciliation Commissions are taken more seriously.
“Violence supported or perpetrated by State institutions, such as the Gukurahundi massacre of over 20 000 unarmed civilians in the 1980s in Matabeleland and the Midlands, must get some closure through appropriate engagement of affected families and areas by government.”
Dabengwa recently announced that they will take the law into their hands in reburying the Gukurahundi victims if the government fails to act before August.
But above all, Dabengwa noted that the 2018 elections must be preceded by the strengthening of the capacity and independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
“Without free and fair elections there will be no meaningful or lasting peace,” he said.