This week marked exactly four years since soldiers took over the streets of Harare to dislodge Zimbabwe’s founding leader, the late former president, Robert Mugabe, from power, ushering in a Mnangagwa-led government.
Academic Nhamo Mhiripiri said Mnangagwa’s government took over a broken system where nearly everything had crumbled, therefore, any positive change might not have the desired impact. Mhiripiri said:
If we are to measure any achievement; to simply have any one of those sectors still functioning in any bearable sense, is an achievement in itself.
The little improvement might not be remarkable in the eyes of others but for those involved in revamping all those sectors they see gigantic improvements.
Mhiripiri believes the government has performed well in repairing Zimbabwe’s major trunk roads, especially the dangerous Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge highway. He added:
But people put the politics of the belly ahead of everything else asking to what extent they are able to have three meals a day.
Most Zimbabweans are still failing to get those three meals, not to mention the services in the hospitals; salaries are still depressed and these are things that the government has acknowledged.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure said the situation in Zimbabwe was deeply reflective of a highly polarised political climate. He said:
Thus, one’s assessment depends almost entirely on where one sits in the partisan divide. What is indisputable, though, is that the second republic has seen Zimbabwean re-enacting ESAP (Economic Structural Adjustment Programme) under a different name, that is, embracing a neo-liberal agenda of economic reforms with an ugly human face.
This has been coupled with the deployment of the tools of hard authoritarianism. This is a development that is often associated with the Beijing (and now the Kigali) paradigm.
Masunungure further argued that on the domestic front, Zimbabwe was witnessing economic liberalisation accompanied by the closure of political space. He urged the government to marry economic liberalisation to political liberalisation.
Analyst Rashweat Mukundu argued that the government has a lot of rhetoric on reforms, but without much substance adding that the manner in which earmarked projects are handled is “even worse in terms of corruption and nepotism than we had under Robert Mugabe.” He said:
If you look at human rights and democratic reforms, there could be some positives in terms of, say, media reforms that we have seen.
On the other hand, if you look at those that have been licensed, especially in the commercial broadcasting sector, we see abuse by the state.
He also expressed fear that the current administration could be more dangerous than the Mugabe government as it considers its political survival and interest ahead of everything else.
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