Mnangagwa not a born again democrat


By Kholwani Nyathi

President Emmerson Mnangagwa almost succeeded in fooling everyone with his pretence that he had suddenly become a born again democrat after the coup that toppled strongman Robert Mugabe six years ago.

Mnangagwa, who was ever present in Mugabe’s governments for the 37 years that the autocrat ruled the country, even promised long suffering Zimbabweans a “new kind of democracy” as he returned from brief exile in South Africa in the days leading to the military putsch.

Mnangagwa promised to roll back some of the draconian laws that were used by his vanquished mentor to hang on to power for three decades, which were modelled along the lines of colonial legal instruments such as the notorious Public Order and Security Act (POSA).

For some time he did act the part as his new administration repealed the obnoxious Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and POSA, among other laws that were used so effectively by the Mugabe regime to clamp down on freedom of speech, assembly and association.

It appeared Zimbabwe was well on course to shed its unenviable tag of being a pariah state that paid scant regard to people’s freedoms.

For a moment Mnangagwa was being celebrated as a reformer.

It didn’t take too long, however, for the mask to fall off for the 80 year-old ruler.

As Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world on May 3 in celebrating World Press Freedom Day, those that took time to reflect on the state of press freedom in the country were unanimous that Zimbabwe is back to factory settings.

The Mnangagwa government’s reflex reaction to growing pressure over its failure to deliver on electoral promises on the eve of what could be a watershed election, has been the increasing general disregard of freedom of expression and introduction of laws that entrench violations of freedom of expression.

The past year saw intensified efforts by the authorities to push through claw back clauses in new laws that make a mockery of the move to repeal draconian statutes in the early years of the post Mugabe administration.

Fresh laws such as the Cyber and Data Protection Act are a clear assault on freedom of expression and are meant to silence critical journalism that shines some light into dark places.

The frenzied push for the Criminal Law (Codification and Reforms) Act Amendment Bill (infamously known as the Patriotic Bill) and the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill is not reflective of a country that aspires to have a dispensation where respect and protection of freedom of expression as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is enjoyed by all.

Attacks against journalists intensified last year with the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa Zimbabwe) recording a jump in violations against media workers to 137 from 32 in 2018, which was an election year.

There are fears the attacks will escalate even further this year as the country heads towards harmonised elections at a time when the government has stopped pretending to be reform minded.

Press freedom is a vital ingredient of a vibrant democracy. Sadly, Zimbabwe is heading back to the Mugabe years if not worse.

*Kholwani Nyathi is Alpha Media Holdings’ acting editor-in-chief

In Conversation with Joseph Makamba Busha


South Africa based entrepreneur Joseph Makamba Busha, President of FreeZim Congress, believes that he can change Zimbabwe through wisdom and strategies acquired in life and business. In his recently launched book “My Thoughts”, Busha says he believes Africa’s future begins in our minds. Watch his episode here.

Audience Responses

From the Joseph Busha episode, our community had this to say:

Africa is as strong as its constituent parts. Thanks Trevor for bringing this leader to our attention. Zim is clearly laced with capable leaders. If such people rise in our nation states, so will Afrika rise. Thanks from Azania (South Africa).
Very profound. Gives me hope for the future. The older Zanu guard will slowly perish and our country will rise again.
My understanding of the political matrix of Zimbabwe is that players who enter the fray a little too late in the game towards elections do not go very far in terms of getting their desired results. This is the reason for most people’s apprehension towards people like Robert Chapman, Noah Manyika, Nkosana Moyo, and dare I say even Joseph M. Busha. Despite their glowing credentials and the great potential they have to make a positive impact and transform our country they just do not have the constituency to back their respective bids to secure the presidency and government. Sadly there is little to expect from them given this late stage. Thank you nonetheless for having him on your show and I look forward to more enlightening discussions such as these.

Coming Next: In Conversation with Hon. Temba Mliswa


Don’t miss the next episode with Norton Independent MP Hon. Temba Mliswa In Conversation with Trevor.

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in conversation with trevorZimbabwean entrepreneur and newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube sits
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