The cerebration for overthrow of Mugabe may not live for long, the man that replaced him headed Zimbabwe’s feared intelligence agency during times of state oppression
By Allawi Ssemanda
To students of diplomacy, Emmerson Mngangagwa’s first speech well described who he is.
When the man who is called ‘the crocodile’ returned to Zimbabwe on November 22, ahead of his inauguration on Friday, November 24, there was a jubilation among Zimbabweans – jubilation which I personally think was not necessary since Mnangagwa maybe worse than Mugabe.
He made his first public speech at ZANU–PF party head offices in Harare and his speech confirmed my reservations.
As a student of international relations and diplomacy, I followed well Mnangagwa’s 12-minute speech and going by his diction and body language gave me a clear glimpse of this man: The Crocodile; unapologetic and vindictive.
Listening to his speech even before his inauguration, several thingspop out on what we should expect from his presidency.
In his address, Mnangagwa depicted Zimbabwe as a God-fearing country when he noted:
“The voice of the people is the voice of God," no doubt he knows Zimbabweans as Christians and God-fearing people and in that line he too present himself too as a Church-going man who is not just a Christian, but prays and wanted Zimbabweans to receive him not just as a military enthroned president, but as a God-chosen president who God chose through the voice of Zimbabweans.
Indeed, speaking in Shona towards the end of his address roared; "God who is up above is the one who knows. He is the one who leads his country. He is the one who loves his people."
Again, during his speech, it was not clear whether he is going to be a forgiving or a revengeful president, especially to his nemesis the so called "G40 cabal" which he and the generals accused of usurping executive authority a 93-year-old Robert Mugabe.
In his speech, he referenced a quote from the woman who caused his sacking as vice-president.
He picked a quote from the former first lady Grace Mugabe's speeches this year where she attacked him during a rally accusing him of creating divisions in party - ZANU-PF where Grace noted that:
“We are going to crush the head of this big snake." In his speech Mnangagwa fired back, "so many lies were told. They said 'We are going to crush this big snake's head.' I do not quite know whose head has been crushed now." This was no doubt a reminder that he had not forgotten those who accused him.
Probably trying to win his sympathy, Mnangagwa told his audience how he was fired, “Sixteen days ago, I received a letter firing me from the government as vice-president," Mnangagwa reminded people before adding that, "Within two hours I was informed about plans to eliminate me." And added, how he survived being poisoned on August 12 before thanking people of Zimbabwe for looking out for him.
As those who studied language and body language will explain his speech spoke more than what he just read. Speaking in Shona, his tone and message was meant to get sympathy from party members.
His speech part that was made in English some how was different from the Shona one and the English part clearly was meant to go to the International community whom he told that Zimbabwe is open for business."
He again spoke in Shona reminding the party supporters that, those outside the party can "bark and complain," but should know that the ZANU-PF train is moving forward.
“Let them bark while we carry on ruling this country," he declared. This clearly brought the real Mnangagwa, he perhaps meant that, he has not even thought about bringing on board the opposition, but only those who don’t “bark” and his own party members as he refines its reputation since those who handed power to him were categorical that there were criminals in the party and hence their "Operation Restore Legacy."
Another hint that came out clearly during his speech is, was he the coup? If yes, what role could he have played? Though there is no evidence to back this, his speech provides a hint that he indeed was part of the coup as indeed noted in his speech, "I was in constant contact with the service chiefs throughout,"
Whether he was the man the architect of the coup or not he played well the cards. Being a trained lawyer and former minister of legal and parliamentary affairs, he surely knew well the law and probably explains why the army followed the process of sanitizing what some political pundits have described as the coup despite the army saying otherwise.
What Zimbabwens must have in mind is that, their new president is called "The Crocodile." At least in Africa where I come from, Crocodiles are feared animals, they are known to be wise at “hunting”.
They crocodiles patiently wait for their target, often half hidden in waters, when luck comes, as small animals such as zebra come to drink at a waterhole that can be their end.
The crocodile, like Zimbabwe’s Mnangagwa, when he was fired by Mugabe, was patient, took his time, half hidden himself in water (self-exile) and with help of the generals, he the Crocodile was able to forcefully end Mugabe’s 37-year rule.
The opposition cerebration for overthrow of Mugabe may not live for long, the Crocodile that replaced him is the man who has replaced him headed Zimbabwe’s feared intelligence agency during times of state oppression.
Indeed, there are claims that he was involved in the Matebeleland massacres the1980s with opposition claiming he was behind election violence and vote rigging which saw US State Department slap sanctions on him for what the US called acts of human rights abuse, to-date, these sanctions remain in force.
What is clear is that, Zimbabweans knew he was Mugabe's henchman, but many are willing to sweep his history under the carpet. Many who celebrated his coming were just against family rule where Mugabe’s wife was poised to become the president.
The writer is a PhD student of international relations and diplomatic studies