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Lack of reforms dooms polls

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

IN just over two months, Zimbabweans head for their second post-Robert Mugabe elections. If the 2018 polls, which gave Mugabe’s erstwhile aide, Emmerson Mnangagwa, a five-year term to lead the country into a new dispensation, were watershed, this year’s elections are crucial for Zimbabwe’s very survival.

The wheels of the economy have come off the rails, with its restoration inextricably tied to the politics of the country. And yet on the political front, Mnangagwa’s administration has largely chosen to ignore the pressing question of reforms, setting the country for another five years of missed opportunities and prolonged misery for the long-suffering masses.

For many years, the lack of credibility of the southern African nation have haunted the economy, with the country remaining a pariah State, failing to service its foreign and domestic debts to be able to access new lines of credit.

When Mnangagwa took over in 2017, he promised a new type of politics that is inclusive and touted as the panacea to the much-needed economic growth that could pull the country out of perennial poverty, starvation and political instability.

But six years into Mnangagwa’s rule, the promises of reforms have turned to be a charade. So they say, a leopard will never change its spots. Mnangagwa has reverted to the default mode.

The reforms that would allow institutional reforms at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), Zimbabwe Republic Police, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and the institution of traditional leadership, among others, to allow for a free and fair election have fast become a dream. The polls will likely be disputed again, and the question of legitimacy will, therefore, remain an albatross around the country’s neck.

Instead, Mnangagwa has been coming up with a cocktail of laws to entrench his power. The laws include the Cyber Security Act, Constitutional Amendment Nos 1 and 2, the proposed Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) Amendment Bill that has been awaiting Mnangagwa’s signature since February, and the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Amendment Bill that sailed through Parliament end of May. All these are repressive laws that threaten the credibility of the August 23 polls.

There has been rampant abuse of State institutions such as the police and the Judiciary as well as violence against opposition parties. The playing field is not level. Mnangagwa has failed to respect his own promise of allowing Zimbabweans to choose their leaders freely. The right to choose leaders freely was the reason why Mnangagwa and his generation took up arms against the colonial government.

However, the more things change, the more they remain the same. Zimbabwe is likely staring another violent poll which will not be credible and thus the legitimacy question will remain. The country continues moving in circles. Mnangagwa was supposed to do the needful and implement the necessary reforms that take the country forward. That is what nationalists should do, they put the interests of the country first. He should feel for the generations that are passing without knowing peace, citizens fleeing their country everyday in search of greener pastures because the economy back home is bad. Mr President, you must learn to walk the talk.

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