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Mnangagwa heads for Davos with empty briefcase

19/01/2018 00:00:00
by Makusha Mugabe
Off to World Economic Forum ... President Emmerson Mnangagwa

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has for the umpteenth time shown disdain for the constitution and for Zimbabweans in the diaspora. Two weeks ago, addressing Zimbabweans in South Africa President Mnangagwa totally ignored the diaspora demand for voting rights, despite urging them invest back home. This sent home the message that the government is only interested in diaspora dollars but not in the people in diaspora.

Then, while in Namibia this week, he was asked about the issue directly and, despite the fact that there has not been any serious discussion about diaspora vote in his government, Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe did not have the capacity to facilitate its citizens based outside the country to vote.

There was no reference to any report or study about the requirements of such an exercise, which would have shown why Zimbabwe cannot fulfil its constructional obligations. Other countries, including Zimbabwe's neighbours, frequently hold elections with participation of their diaspora citizens.

It is clear to us that what is lacking is the will to have those in the diaspora voting, because if there was, there would have been some consideration of the issue by the government. Again, it was only last week that the Minister of Justice Mr Ziyambi Ziyambi said that the government did not consider it necessary to make any laws to enable diaspora vote. This clearly shows that the government had not even considered the issue, otherwise the Minister of Justice would have known about it and quoted a report.

Mnangagwa said Zimbabweans who were serious could go home to register, then travel back again to vote, ignoring the economic status of Zimbabweans abroad, most of who are barely making ends meet. Besides issues of failing to acquire work permits which confines most of them to menial jobs, diasporans also have to take care of their families who are living in a collapsed economy; in most cases they only manage to go home once a year.

And, although Mnangagwa said election observers would be invited from the Southern African region, and from Africa and “the international community”, he did not specifically say that the government would not interfere in limiting the origin of monitoring organisations.

Meanwhile, the president prepares at attend the World Economic Summit at Davos, we wonder what message he is taking to investors when he has also just demonstrated his profligacy by dishing out new twin-cab vehicles to chiefs, despite some hospitals not having boilers or mortuaries.


What will he tell the world to announce his new dispensation when terrible laws like Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) are still on the statute books. When the only broadcaster with infrastructure to broadcast nationally, which is also state funded, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation is still partisan, and refuses to cover opposition political parties except in negative stories.

Zimbabweans and the world community accepted Mnangagwa’s unconstitutional removal of Robert Mugabe as offering a new and democratic dispensation, but it seems, as he heads to Davos to woo investors and re-engage with the international community, he has nothing to offer.

Economists estimate that Zimbabwe’s neglect of its infrastructural needs has left the country with a more than $26 billion gap to catch up with the rest of the world, from roads and power b to communications and health facilities; Standards of living have regressed about 50 years.

Mnangagwa is expected to say that the regime has changed in order to attract foreign investors with long term commitment to Zimbabwe, but he does not seem to have even a token amendment of blatantly oppressive legislation or measures to ensure free and fair elections.

Instead he looks like getting ready to bludgeon his way back into the presidency later this year in a far more cruel way than his predecessor Mugabe. He should not be surprised if investors and international development partners take a wait and see attitude; after all elections are only eight months away, if that.

Makusha Mugabe is a UK-based journalist and human rights activist. czeditornew @googlemail.com

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