The five months since the fall of Robert Mugabe have been far from easy for his successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Zimbabwe’s new government has made all the right noises towards the West and China. The West has made some noises back, but is waiting on a free election.
Despite a show of warmth towards Mnangagwa, China wants assurances that its future investments will be safeguarded and balance of payments support used responsibly – in short, a marked reduction in corruption.
Internationally speaking, Zimbabwe has started to re-enter the fold. But at home, Mnangagwa has yet to make a convincing case that real change is underway.
So far, there is no sign of Zimbabwe’s long hoped-for economic transformation; the same number of people are unemployed as before. But the problems go beyond the economy.
Mnangagwa has yet to apologise for (or even plainly acknowledge) the Gukurahundi – a series of terrible pogroms that were inflicted upon the Matabeleland provinces in the 1980s for which Mnangagwa himself has often been blamed.
Taken together, this all means Mnangagwa has yet to earn Zimbabweans’ confidence as he tries to move on from the Mugabe years. And his lieutenants in power aren’t helping.
Mnangagwa’s Vice-President, General Constantino Chiwenga, makes a far-from-convincing civilian ruler.
Faced with striking nurses who were dissatisfied with a government pay offer, he simply sacked them all – as if he were still in the army and under no obligation to negotiate, or to value key workers in a health system that cannot be allowed to deteriorate further.
Behind the scenes, but surfacing just enough to be annoying, is Jonathan Moyo, a proxy for Grace Mugabe, who tweets incessantly about the illegality of the coup that brought Mnangagwa to power.
And Robert Mugabe himself, while essentially impotent, is audibly grumbling. Mnangagwa wisely ignores these irritating background noises – but he could certainly do without them.
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