SENIOR STAFF WRITER
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa hoodwinked the world into believing he was different from his predecessor Robert Mugabe, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, has said.
Mnangagwa was feted like a king when he replaced Mugabe in November 2017 after a military intervention, with crisis-weary Zimbabweans believing at the time that he would turn around the country’s fortunes.
The Zimbabwean president won the people’s hearts after promising a break from Mugabe’s authoritarian rule and economic mismanagement. But all this, according to Roth, was a ruse to have sanctions imposed by the West lifted.
“To get sanctions lifted, Mnangagwa promised a new Zimbabwe, but it looks a lot like the old one because dissent can still lead to ‘disappearances’ and torture,” Roth wrote on twitter.
Mnangagwa has been under pressure to turn around the country’s ailing economy by luring investors and economic support from the sceptical West.
Investors have, however, been evasive, citing Zimbabwe’s poor human and property rights record and the slow pace at which key political and economic reforms are being implemented.
The country was recently under the spotlight following the alleged abduction of three MDC officials after they staged a flash demonstration in Warren Park, Harare.
Harare West MP Joanna Mamombe, youth assembly vice chair Cecilia Chimbiri and the party’s youth deputy organising secretary Netsai Marowa recently went missing before they were found in Bindura, amid allegations they had been abducted by State functionaries. The State denied the allegations, claiming the alleged abduction was staged.
However, the alleged abduction received widespread condemnation from local and international organisations.
The European Union also recently blamed Zimbabwe’s economic woes on corruption.
“Zimbabwe loses almost US$2 billion a year to corruption; and the latest allegations of non-procedural behaviour by government officials in the acquisition of medical equipment are worrisome. The cost of corruption is high, even more so amid a crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Corruption undermines development, reinforces inequalities & destroys confidence in those in power. As EU, we support Zacc to fulfil its mandate to fight corruption in #Zimbabwe. We hope these allegations are investigated swiftly, sincerely & transparently,” the EU said.
Posting on its twitter account, the US embassy in Harare also claimed that graft was costing the country dearly.
“In a pandemic, corruption has a human cost. Every dollar lost to the corrupt is a dollar stolen from the Zimbabwean people. Transparency saves lives.
“Transparency is critical — even in an emergency — for democracy to function, allowing citizens to hold governments to account and ensure resources are used wisely.
“Why is Zimbabwe’s public-facing website for procurement awards still blank? A dollar stolen,” the embassy said.
Last week, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and the police arrested Health and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo over Covid-19-related deals. He has since been brought to court and was released on $50 000 bail until July 31.