Zimbabwe’s “new dispensation” from HERO to ZERO in record time!

The world over, revolutions and events that cause seismic shifts in a country's political landscape, are celebrated and recognized as national holidays.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

 

Right here in Zimbabwe, we have April 18 as the day the country attained independence from British colonial rule – and, even during colonial times, there was a Pioneer Day, (originally, Occupation Day) which was commemorated on September 12, in observance of the day the Cecil John Rhode’s pioneer column officially colonized the land between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers.

The same can be said of the founding fathers of these two epochs in this country’s history – with February 21, Robert Gabriel Mugabe’s birthday now marked as “National Youth Day”, and Rhodes date of birth, July 5, slated as “Rhodes Day” (on either the first or second Monday in July), preceding the “Rhodes and Founders” weekend, during the colonial era.

This is a common trend all across the globe – from West to East, and North to South.

Although, personally I have never been a fan of special days set aside in honour of individuals – since I feel this is a form of hero-worshipping and treating a mere human being as a deity – nonetheless, there is one glaring omission on our calendar in Zimbabwe that I have always found quite interesting.

Ever since the so-called “new dispensation” took over the reins of power in the country – after a November 2017 military coup d’etat that ousted iron-fisted nonagenarian, Mugabe, and replaced by his long-time protege and henchman, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa – there has never been a day set aside to immortalize this supposed paradigm shift in Zimbabwe’s governance.

Neither November 21, when Mugabe tendered his resignation (issued grudgingly and under duress, being under military house arrest), or November 24 – the day Mnangagwa was inaugurated as the new president – have ever been marked as anything of major significance in the country’s history.

Why, I ask?

Could it be that, the misnamed “new dispensation” – largely composed and presided over by the same old faces that were at Mugabe’s right hand ever since the country’s independence in 1980 – made every effort in avoiding humiliating their former boss and master, by seemingly celebrating his toppling, and wanted to keep everything low profile?

Maybe!

Nonetheless, I tend to be drawn towards a completely different supposition.

Firstly, the manner in which the coup d’etat was staged – in the full glare of the world, and the subsequent house arrest of Mugabe, and his all too public ousting (beamed live on national television, during a rushed ruling ZANU PF central committee meeting on November 19, and the follow-up joint parliamentary sitting to impeach him, should he not resign) – prove that, shielding the long-time dictator from embarrassment could not possibly have been a factor.

Secondly, the Mnangagwa administration’s obsession with labeling itself as a “new dispensation” – in an apparent disingenuous effort to divorce and distance itself from the Mugabe regime – shows that they are eager in portraying an image of, and be recognized as, a total transformation in Zimbabwe’s political landscape.

It is undoubted that those in power want what happened in November 2017 to be seen and appreciated as the birthing of a new Zimbabwe.

So, why is either November 21 or 24 not publicly celebrated in the country – possibly, as a national holiday?

My own belief is that the reason is quite simple.

The “new dispensation” could have readily and happily marked this day – had there actually been something for Zimbabweans to celebrate.

Had these events in the southern African country’s history truly brought real tangible positive transformation in citizens’ livelihoods – the regime would have not hesitated in ensuring that no one forgot those two weeks in November 2017.

Actually, the fact that thousands and thousands of ordinary Zimbabweans flooded the streets of the capital Harare on November 18, in resounding support for the military intervention (something I never understood then, and still do not understand today) was ample evidence of the overwhelming public backing and endorsement for Mugabe’s removal.

Even the main opposition at the time, the MDC-T was fully behind this move – which witnessed the giant National Sports Stadium in Harare being filled to the brim, for Mnangagwa’s swearing in ceremony.

Surely, the “new dispensation” were heroes, and these events would have been engraved in our history books for all eternity.

That could have been the fact had the citizenry’s livelihoods not gone downhill, pretty swiftly, thereafter!

Mnangagwa, and his ZANU PF party spectacularly lost all credibility, such that barely nine months later, he nearly lost the presidential elections to the MDC-T candidate, Nelson Chamisa – whose dispute was only settled at the Constitutional Court.

The fact that, the regime had absolutely no qualms gunning to death unarmed civilians on the streets of Harare – the day after the elections, on August 1, 2018, followed by a gruesome repeat on January 14, 2019 – did not help matters, either.

This was speedily followed by the ill-advised reintroduction of the discredited Zimbabwe dollar – resulting in rapid depreciation – leading to the economic malaise the country’s citizens find themselves suffering under today, whereby, over half the population survive in extreme poverty (of less than US$1.90 a day), and more than 76% under the poverty datum line.

From HERO to ZERO in record time!

It is then, not surprising at all that the so-called “new dispensation” has absolutely no appetite of reminding Zimbabweans of the events of November 2017 – especially, touted as some ground shaking phenomenon that signalled the ushering in of a better life for Zimbabweans – since, that was clearly not the case.

If anything, the lives of the ordinary people have only deteriorated to levels unseen since the nightmarish early 2000s record-breaking hyperinflationary years.

I am quite certain that any reminding of what happened in November 2017 will only manage to fill most Zimbabweans with a bitter taste in their mouths – and, possibly, gnawing regret for having blindly supported the coup d’etat.

Quite frankly, I seriously doubt if there is any administration on the face of the planet that has managed to destroy the citizens’ goodwill in such record time – from hero to zero in nine months!

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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