Zimbabwe’s Dark Moment Celebrated as ‘Dawn of a new era’

Two phrases, “The people have spoken” and “The voice of the people is the voice of God”, were frequently used by the ZANU PF leadership to sanitise the November 2017 military coup that resulted in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ascendency to power and the ultimate ouster of former President, Robert Mugabe.

A man who was injured during violent protests is seen at a hospital in Harare, Zimbabwe, Jan. 16, 2019. The Zimbabwe bishops’ justice and peace commission is collecting information on violence and human rights abuses in dioceses across the country.CNS photo/Philimon Bulawayo, Reuters

As Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) we maintained that the army was intervening in order to deal with ZANU PF factional fights I rather than national issues) and that their actions would further escalate the constitutional crisis in the country.

Our position was in contrast to the beliefs and sentiments among ordinary citizens that the removal of Mugabe would end decades of repression. Little did Zimbabweans know of what awaited them after the ouster of Mugabe through a military coup which they celebrated as independence.

The ascendency of President Mnangagwa to power actually escalated the Zimbabwean crisis and saw the increased militarisation of the Zimbabwean state with the constitution virtually suspended. Following the November 2017 coup, the military consolidated its power and control of both government and the ruling ZANU PF party.
The military’s ugly hand in the much disputed 2018 elections was quite apparent and this was evidenced by the shooting of 7 civilians during protests against electoral fraud on August 1, 2018, in Harare.

As if that was not enough, the army was to be deployed in high-density suburbs of Harare where they terrorised residents. This was coming at a time the nation and the international community had been made to believe that Zimbabwe was in a new dispensation.

Following the much discredited 2018 elections, Zimbabwe’s constitutional crisis was worsened by the legitimacy crisis on the part of President Mnangagwa and this inevitably came with negative implications on democracy and economic development.

As the economy continued on a downward trend under Mnangagwa’s rule and with the government abdicating on its social protection role, there was unrest among the generality of Zimbabweans including among government workers.
Zimbabweans resorted to street protests and the government responded with brute force by deploying armed soldiers who shot 12 civilians while about 80 were left nursing gunshot injuries.

Over 1 000 civilians were arrested with the government giving the courts a directive to fast track the trials of the arrested persons. This resulted in lawyers taking to the streets in protest against the capture of the judiciary.

Despite international condemnation, reports of rape, torture and abductions being perpetrated by the army continue to be recorded.

Regardless of the video evidence and pictures of police and army harassing and beating up citizens, both the army and police continue to deny the involvement of their members in these acts of brutality.

This publication seeks to reveal how Mnangagwa’s administration, which came in through a military coup, has further worsened the human rights situation in the country through increased militarisation of the State.

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