WASHINGTON, DC —
Zimbabweans are expressing mixed feelings about incoming President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, who will be sworn in as president of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Friday, ending 37-years of rule under now former President Robert Mugabe.
Thousands of Zimbabweans have been celebrating in the streets of the country’s cities and around the world, applauding the military that forced the resignation of President Mugabe, and facilitated the return of Mnangagwa, who had fled to South Africa after his sudden dismissal by Mr. Mugabe.
High Expectations on Mnangagwa
Several unidentified Zimbabwean citizens shared their sentiments of hope and high expectation for the incoming leader.
"We are expecting him to take care of women’s issues and be in decision making and also that we have jobs, our children to have jobs, because that was a very big problem in our country."
"I think from this point of view he (Mnangagwa) is going to correct all the wrongs which have been done by the outgoing president for the betterment of this youth."
And yet another, said he was
"I am happy for the new president, the ED (Emmerson Dambudzo) Mr. Mnangagwa for his commitment for this country and everything which was done back when the president resigned. It took us 37 years for him to be there, but we are happy it was done silently and in peace, so I am happy for the new so I am happy for the new president and I am expecting promising things that are going to happen: employment, unity and everything. I don’t know his arrangement but we can wait for tomorrow, on his inauguration."
Mnangagwa is not an unfamiliar figure in Zimbabwe, as he’s been part of the Zimbabwean government and ruling Zanu-PF for several decades, attaining high level positions, including justice minister and vice president.
His sudden ouster a few weeks ago, over allegations of fueling factionalism and plotting to overthrow the government, set of a sequence of events, including a military takeover, that ended in the resignation of President Mugabe.
Despite what seems to be overwhelming support for Mnangagwa as a replacement to President Mugabe, some Zimbabweans are not so quick to lend their support to a man who they say is complicit in so many of the atrocities that have occurred in Zimbabwe.
SKEPTICISM OVER MNANGAGWA'S RULE
Mnangagwa has held many high profile positions in the ruling party as well as government, including intelligence chief, justice minister and more recently, vice president.
Director Dewa Mavhinga of the Human Rights Watch Southern Africa cautions the nations against believing that Mnangagwa will be too different from Mr. Mugabe, whose departure from office, many are celebrating.
“The system has not been dismantled,” said Mavhinga referring to the fact that Mnangagwa and the Zanu-PF party are part of the same system in place since independence in 1980.
“The infrastructure of violence that was active against citizens of Zimbabwe over the last 37 years remains intact, and on alert and standby to be deployed. The military works on orders. I believe they were given a command to be nice, to smile, for a while, but we should not make the mistake of believing that overnight this was a revolution and everything is over," said Mnangagwa.
Many Zimbabweans have embraced the once feared military, as change agents since forcing Mr. Mugabe’s resignation.
Zimbabwean activist Maureen Kademaunga offered similar sentiments.
"I personally still think that the struggle is not done. We have taken [Mr.] Mugabe and his unruly wife [Grace Mugabe], it's just symbolic, but Mugabe the infrastructure, Mugabe the culture, Mugabe the ideology, Mugabe the system - what I prefer to call Mugabism - is still there,” said Kademaunga.
Kademaunga said Mr. Mugabe’s resignation and the change of leadership in government and the Zanu-PF party, do not reflect long term change.
“I actually think that in the euphoria people might forget that we still have a long way to go, that it is only one man who is gone. And for me, the fact that the military actually code named this operation 'Restore legacy' and what they describe as legacy is that you must have fought in the war, you must be willing to do things our way etc. etc. So, for me the legacy they are talking about is the oppressive system that they want to maintain."
Mnangagwa indicated in his speech at the Zanu-PF headquarters after his return from South Africa, that he wanted to bring in a new era of democracy. Many say they will wait and see if he delivers on his promise.