Zimbabwe: New Wine in an Old Bottle and Old Wine in a New Bottle

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The political metamorphosis in Zimbabwe took place unexpectedly. No single bullet was fired. No loss of life. Zimbabweans who had got used to, and for that matter, lived to accept the 37 years of the former President Robert Mugabe’s near-absolute rule,  woke up to a new political reality. Robert Mugabe had been shown the political backdoor. On the other hand, his former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was forced into an exile in South Africa emerged as the new President of Zimbabwe. Jubilations and euphoria followed. A new political order in Zimbabwe, many Zimbabweans cried happily. Was it a dream or reality?  A reality indeed.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised a new beginning and opportunity for Zimbabwe. He immediately reshuffled his cabinet and appointed, amongst others, General Constantino Chiweng, the man who forced President Mugabe into his political oblivion and saw to the ascension of  Emmerson Mnangagwa to the apex of authority, as the Vice President. While many welcomed the departure of Robert Mugabe and the arrival of Emmerson Mnangagwa, critics see the appointment of  Constantino Chiweng as pure nepotism and a reward for helping President Emmerson Mnangagwa take over power. Worse still, others see President Emmerson Mnangagwa as inseparable from former President Mugabe’s reign. They argue that most of the Mugabe’s era policies were championed and judiciously executed by Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The question is: Is President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s presidency indeed a new beginning for Zimbabweans, as he claims or is he is just an extension of Mugabe’s rule? For sure, Zimbabweans deserve a new political direction that would lead to sustainable growth and development.  President Emmerson Mnangagwa must convince the rest of the world that his presidency brings a new beginning and opportunity for Zimbabwe. This he can only achieve by putting the interests of Zimbabweans first.