PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa this week marked his second year in power since his inauguration after winning the 2018 disputed elections by a wafer-thin 50,6%.
His term of office during that period reads like a Stephen King horror novel marked with allegations of human rights abuses, corruption and a massive decline of the country’s economy.
Sweeping into power on the back of guns and military tanks, there was, however, hope that the septuagenarian leader would usher in a new era of democracy and economic recovery.
Journalists from all over the world craved for an interview with the man that would bring change to the ruinous and despotic rule of his predecessor and long-time mentor, the late former president Robert Mugabe.
His declaration that he was a listening president and that the country was open for business was celebrated in all corners of the country.However, it did not take long for Mnangagwa’s promises to be exposed as the load of nonsense that it was.
During demonstrations to demand the announcement of the 2018 elections results on August 1, 2018, soldiers killed six unarmed civilians, which prompted global condemnation.
Mnangagwa appointed a commission to investigate the killings. The commission recommended that the perpetrators be brought to book and those injured be compensated. Mnangagwa is yet to implement the recommendations two years on.
In January 2019, at least a dozen people were killed and scores others arrested or beaten up in their homes following protests over the 150% hike in fuel.
His government has banned a number of protests, with those who have demonstrated, either arrested or beaten up. Plans for a protest on July 31 this year resulted in the arrest of opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume, journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and MDC Alliance deputy chairperson Job Sikhala. Ngarivhume and Chin’ono have been locked up.
MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzai Mahere, award-winning author Tsitsi Dangarembga and the cousin of journalist Mduduzi Mathuthu, Tawanda Muchehiwa, were either arrested or abducted and tortured in connection with the planned July 31 protests.
Under Mnangagwa’s reign, reports of torture and abductions of civil society activists, opposition party members and even comedians after criticising Mnangagwa’s government have escalated.
The spirited denials of its involvement has found few believers.
Mnangagwa’s government has found itself in continued firefighting mode as the churches, western capitals, the United Nations, the African Union and even Mnangagwa’s advisers have strongly condemned the human rights abuses.
Mnangagwa’s disastrous track record has extended to the economy. After introducing the Zimbabwean dollar as the sole legal tender without vital benchmarks, inflation skyrocketed to beyond 800%, which is the second highest in the world after strife-torn Venezuela.
With the local unit rapidly losing value, health workers paid in locally-denominated currency have downed tools, resulting in public hospitals turning into death traps, particularly with the scourge of Covid-19.
Civil servants have also demanded that the next wage negotiations with government be in foreign currency and not in the freefalling local currency.
Such has been the dismal failure of the decision to make the local currency sole legal tender that government has since changed its tune, allowing providers of goods and services to transact in forex.
The re-engagement policy, which Mnangagwa has made a key objective is dead in the water, with condemnation of human rights abuses by western capitals becoming a daily soundtrack.
It was hilarious to see information secretary Nick Mangwana point out that reducing the price of mealie meal to ZW$70 (US84 cents) was one of the key achievements of Mnangagwa’s reign thus far.
With lieutenants like these, who needs enemies? Mnangagwa must have wondered.
It is no wonder why Mnangagwa is looking over his shoulder fearing protests and being ousted from his own party.
When one adds corruption, nepotism and downright delusion, Mnangagwa’s tenure as president has been a dog’s breakfast.
Health minister Constantino Chiwenga has changed his stance on the welfare of health sector from when he was just a Vice-President.
He is still Vice-President, only that now he is deeply involved in the day to day operations of the healthcare department, as he is the minister.
Unlike before when he just used to fire every striking health worker, and telling doctors that they are mere labourers and not professionals, he is trying to plead with them to get back to work.
He has, however, not met with the health workers since his shock appointment earlier this month, a development that has irked the striking health workers.
Nurses have been on strike for over two months and initially the government punished them by not paying them their salaries. The nurses didn’t budge, saying they could no longer report for work as the salaries could no longer sustain them.
Government has since recanted on that position and have paid them for the two months they have been on strike. This is unlikely to placate the health workers who do not want to be paid in the local currency which continually loses value. This is something the broke government cannot afford, which probably explains why Chiwenga has not met the health workers.
Doctors, specialists and other health workers then joined the strike saying there were in the same predicament.
Covid-19 even made it worse as the health workers said they could not attend to patients with protective clothing. Questions have also been raised if Chiwenga, who is not treated in the country’ public hospitals when ill, but in far away China, is the right man for the job. How on earth will he understand the complaints of health workers when the health workers who attend to him are in Asia?