Five years after President Emmerson Mnangagwa swept into power following a coup that toppled Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe is still stuck in the political and economic quagmire of the past two decades.
Some argue that the situation has become worse with millions more Zimbabweans having now been pushed into dire poverty and state institutions weakened to a point that the country’s nascent democracy is gacing serious threats.
After two decades of international isolation as punishment for the Mugabe regime’s alleged human rights violations and electoral fraud, Mnangagwa made re-engagement with western countries his major priority.
He promised political and electoral reforms in order to deal with the country’s pariah status.
Mnangagwa’s administration paid millions of dollars in foreign currency to western public relations firms in a desperate move to clean its image and gain acceptance from countries that have ostracised Zimbabwe because of the Mugabe regime’s human rights record.
The United States and the European Union (EU) set out simple conditions for the removal of their embargos, which included the implementation of political and economic reforms.
However, the Mnangagwa administration has chosen to do the opposite.
The government has been mutilating the 2013 constitution to increase the president’s powers and entrench his position.
Calls for electoral reforms have been totally ignored and it came as no surprise on Friday when the EU’s electoral mission expressed doubts that next year’s elections would be free and fair.
The mission said after observing the 2018 elections it gave Zimbabwe 28 recommendations for “genuine” electoral reforms.
These included “impartiality of the state media, equal treatment of the parties, a proper voters’ registration and transparency” in the voting process.
The mission made the observations ahead of a scheduled meeting between Zimbabwe and the EU on June 7 in Brussels to discuss their relations.
It does not need a rocket scientist to decipher that there will be little movement in terms of achieving Zimbabwe’s goal to mend relations with the EU because Harare has not shown any willingness to meet its end of the bargain.
Similar sentiments have been expressed by the US mission in Harare that Mnangagwa’s regime is not serious about political and electoral reforms to necessitate the removal of the embargo.
It should be made clear that these reforms will not benefit EU or US citizens, but long suffering Zimbabweans who bear the brunt of misgovernance and collapse of the economy.
The world is clearly not being fooled by the propaganda that Mnangagwa is a reformist and it is high time that the government starts walking the talk on reforms.
That was the precise message from the EU on Friday.