By Langton Ncube| A former US envoy to Zimbabwe has described the country’s new leader, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, as a clone of his former boss Robert Mugabe, insinuating that nothing has changed in Harare, since his ascendance to the country’s highest office.
A clone is a person or thing regarded as an exact copy of another.
According to an online newspaper Spotlight, former U.S Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Johnnie Carson, recently told PBS NewsHour, a popular American evening television program, hosted by journalist and anchor of the show, Judy Woodruff, that Mnangagwa was Mugabe’s clone, who was “very bitter” and a “hard man” who spent many years under colonial imprisonment, during which he endured torture.
Mnangagwa has been trying to portray himself under the new political dispensation, as a conciliatory national leader bent on healing and rebuilding the distressed and downtrodden nation.
“Zimbabwe has thrown out a dictator, but it’s uncertain whether the country is moving towards, the political and economic reforms that so many Zimbabweans want,” said Carson on the program.
“Emmerson Mnangagwa is virtually a younger version of Robert Mugabe. In many ways, he is a clone of President Robert Mugabe. He, like Mugabe, spent many years in prison and was tortured while he was there. He came out a very bitter and hard man. He is, like Robert Mugabe, very articulate. He’s very resilient. He’s very disciplined. He, however, has served as an enforcer (of Mugabe’s rule), serving initially as the country’s intelligence chief for nearly a decade, and responsible for some of the country’s worst human rights violations in 1980 and again in 2008 and ’09, when Robert Mugabe stole an election.”
Asked if there was an alternative political leader Zimbabweans can look up to “for help” besides Mnangagwa, the career envoy said:
“Well, the opposition has been weak, but it does exist. There are individuals who are part of the movement for democratic change, Morgan Tsvangirai, Tendai Biti, individuals like that, who are committed to democracy, economic reform, and political reform. And there are other individuals who were part of Zanu PF who were thrown out some time ago, Joice Mujuru.
So there are voices who can be incorporated into a government who reflect the kinds of reforms politically and economically that people want. It is important, though, that there be an effort to ensure that these people are a part of the government, and are not marginalized by the new leadership.”
Carson has served as United States Ambassador to several African nations. In 2009 he was nominated to become U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs by President Barack Obama.
He resigned in 2013 after four years in the role and following the resignation of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He is currently a Senior Advisor at Albright Stonebridge Group and the United States Institute of Peace.
For his foreign service career, the diplomat joined the United States National Intelligence Council as National Intelligence Officer for Africa in September 2006 after a 37-year career in Foreign Service. Prior to this appointment, Carson served as the Senior Vice President of the National Defense University in Washington D.C. (2003–2006).
Carson’s Foreign Service career includes ambassadorships to Kenya (1999–2003), Zimbabwe (1995–1997), and Uganda (1991–1994); and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs(1997–1999), according to online information about his biography.
As if to show the umbilical code still binding them, Mnangagwa while taking his Oath of Office last year, paid tribute to his predecessor, Mugabe, saying his mistakes will never detract from his immense contribution to the liberation and development of Zimbabwe, as he remained his father and mentor.
Let me at this stage pay special tribute to one of, and the only surviving father of our nation, Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe. He led us in our struggle for national independence and assumed responsibilities of leadership at the formative and very challenging time in the birth of our nation. That is to be lauded and celebrated for all times,” Mnangagwa said.
The new leader added:”Whatever errors of commission or omission that might have occurred during that critical phase in the life of our nation, let us all accept and acknowledge his immense contribution towards the building of our nation.To me personally, he remains a father, mentor, comrade-in-arms and my leader. We thus say thank you to him and trust that our history will grant him his proper place and accord him his deserved stature as one of the founders and leaders of our nation.”
Mnangagwa also said Mugabe had laid a compact foundation for Zimbabweans.
“Whilst I am aware that emotions and expectations might be high and mixed, I have no doubt that over time, we will appreciate the solid foundation laid by my predecessor, against all manner of vicissitudes, towards building an educated, enlightened, skilled and forgiving society.”
Mnangagwa’s fresh and sort of non retributive politics, had all but given the opposition fervent hope of being roped into an all inclusive government, but Mnangagwa shot down the possibility and necessity of another Government of National Unity (GNU), leaving the opposition in limbo and feeling betrayed after sending their supporters into the streets for solidarity with the military take over, which occurred last year, seen by the International community as a wholesale expression of the people of Zimbabwe for Mugabe to pack his bags out of State House.
However the opposition, especially the MDC-T was left out on the political dinner table, with no piece of the cake alloted to them, nor breadcrumbs. It had been widely speculated in government circles, that Mnangagwa had conducted private talks with former prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, to form a coaltion transitional administration until the country was ready for elections, but the opposition it has come to light had been led down the garden path.
Almost seething with anger, MDC-T vice president, Nelson Chamisa, told South African press last week that, Mnangagwa had missed an opportunity at rebuilding the country and ushering in unity, by sidelining them in the new regime.
“It is a tragedy and very disappointing that he does not want to work with the opposition. He should have roped in the opposition in his new government in order to build unity and trust. We’re very disappointed that he missed that chance,” said Chamisa.