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Euphoric Zimbabweans cheer soldiers during the 2017 coup


Innocent blood will haunt Zim



THE failure to cure Zimbabwe’s 2017 military coup is continuing to bring untold grief to long-suffering citizens who are starkly reminded at every turn that nobody is coming to rescue them anytime soon.

After making a very costly strategic blunder by supporting a putsch which they wrongly assumed would bring finality to the unfinished business of liberating Zimbabwe, the people of this country are realising that they jumped from the proverbial frying pan straight into the fire.

On that dramatic November day six years ago when soldiers ousted the longtime ruler Robert Mugabe — triggering euphoric scenes as the rapturous masses jostled to take selfies in front of rickety military tanks — many people genuinely believed that the country was turning a new leaf.

Little did they know that the nightmare was only gaining momentum.

It did not take long for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to give the naive plebeians a rude awakening. On 1 August 2018, opposition supporters, protesting a delay in the release of election results, were gunned down in broad daylight on the streets of Harare.

Videos and pictures of unarmed civilians shot dead in cold blood by marauding soldiers were beamed around the world. Harare was teeming with local and foreign journalists as well as election observers at the time.

The murders were literally televised live.

It did not end there. In January 2019, another protest erupted, this time sparked by growing disgruntlement over spiralling prices. Predictably, Mnangagwa returned to default settings: unleashing soldiers and police on citizens.

Lives were lost, women were raped and many were left maimed.

Mnangagwa’s true colours were laid bare. People had been sold a dummy. All his flowery rhetoric centred on the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra came to naught.

A commission of inquiry chaired by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe found Mnangagwa and his government culpable for the 2018 killings.

The panel, featuring eminent personalities, made a raft of recommendations, which have all been ignored by Mnangagwa.

Why has the government not compensated the victims and their families? When will the murderous soldiers be brought to justice?

Why is Mnangagwa not implementing the governance reforms necessary to give practical expression to the Bill of Rights?

On Friday, Amnesty International released a new report showing that the Mnangagwa government has failed to live up to its promises for change and break with Mugabe’s brutal human rights legacy.

Covering the period from 2018 to 2023, the report enunciates a spine-chilling record of state-sponsored murder, brutality and unmitigated impunity.

The tragedy in this situation is that Mnangagwa has repeatedly squandered glorious opportunities to chart a new path.

Apart from Mugabe himself, it is difficult to think of a Zimbabwean politician who has a more atrocious human rights record than Mnangagwa.

From the killing fields of the 1980s Gukurahundi genocide to the 2008 “short sleeve, long sleeve” pogrom, to the post-Mugabe atrocities, Mnangagwa’s hands are dripping with the blood of innocents.

Zanu PF has responded to the Amnesty International report in typical fashion. The ruling party’s director of information, Farai Marapira, bluntly told Amnesty International to go to hell.

Speaking in Shona to the Voice of America’s Studio 7, he blurted: “Amnesty International is free to write what it wants and it can take its report wherever it wants. As Zanu PF, we have nothing to do with it, we’re unfazed, we don’t care about it, we don’t care about what it writes.”

There is a clumsy effort by propagandists and apologists of autocracy to dismiss Amnesty International as an instrument of imperialist intrigue.

This is sad. Zanu PF members must never forget that when their leaders were incarcerated by Rhodesia’s racist colonial government during the liberation struggle, it was human rights organisations such as Amnesty International which gave them much-needed solidarity on the global stage.

Today, these same human rights defenders who provided the jailed liberation leaders with practical support have suddenly become imperialist pawns? No, that is a lie.

The truth shall set us free. Zanu PF, as currently configured under Mnangagwa’s inept leadership, has become a scar on the conscience of every self-respecting African.

We should not be surprised that only three foreign leaders bothered to attend the sham inauguration in Harare on 4 September.

Mnangagwa lacks all legitimacy. There is no better evidence of this self-evident fact than his horrific human rights record.

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