Activists doubt new Zimbabwe leadership will bring real change

Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba

Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe‘s new president, is expected to form a new cabinet this week, with all eyes on whether he will break with the past and name a broad-based government, or select old guard figures from Robert Mugabe‘s era.

But some human rights activists worry the new regime will not be any different from the old one.

Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa reports from Harare.

In a development not likely to go down well with the opposition, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and the Zimbabwe Republic Police have issued a joint press statement, urging the nation to remain united and to respect the laws of the country.

In a statement issued at the Police General Headquarters this morning, the two security services said normalcy had returned to the country following the inauguration of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, on the 24th of November 2017.

The Movement for Democratic Change while welcoming the change of tone in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s language has called for a firm and unequivocal assurance that the security services, particularly the Zimbabwe National Army, “shall promptly be returning to their barracks and that never again will they play an active role in determining who rules the country”.

In a statement issued to The Zimbabwe Mail on Saturday, MDC spokesman Obert Gutu said: “Henceforth, the security services should be confined to their duties as provided for in Section 212 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Put bluntly, the security services should never, ever be active political players going forward.”

In spite of the opposition’s position; some members of the public who have had difficult cat and mouse relations with the corruption Zimbabwe police officers have welcomed the troops presents in the streets.

Colonel Everson Mugwisi represented the ZDF while Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba represented the ZRP at the press briefing.

According to the State media on Monday, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charamba revealed that they shall be joint patrols by the army and the police, especially in the Harare central business district, adding that the ZRP had resumed its normal duties following the inauguration of a new government and the return to normalcy following the ZDF’s Operation Restore Legacy.

“We wish, therefore, to advise the nation that the Zimbabwe Republic Police is now assuming its role as stipulated in the Constitution of Zimbabwe under Section 219, which among other things mandate the Zimbabwe Republic Police to maintain Law and Order, protect and secure the lives and property of the people.

“You will soon notice the ZDF and ZRP members conducting joint patrols, especially in the Harare Central Business District. We urge you all progressive Zimbabweans to respect the country’s laws and cooperate with our officers as they perform their duties,” read part of the statement.

Colonel Mugwisi urged the nation to unite, and work with the defence and security services.

“Let us respect the law and work with the police and the army,” said Colonel Mugwisi.

The ZDF and ZRP say they are aware of cases of looting and illegal occupation of other people’s properties being reported, adding that perpetrators will face the full wrath of the law.

The defence and security services said they remain guided by President Mnangagwa’s inaugural speech especially the part on unity and self discipline.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police would want to assure the nation that it will strive to ensure that all its operations and programmes will be people-centred in accordance with the vision of His Excellency, the President, Cde Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa,” the statement said.

Colonel Everson Mugwisi who is the Director Public Relations (ZDF) and Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba, who is the ZRP Chief Staff Officer (Press and Public Relations), both signed the press statement.

In its statement, the MDC welcomed the pledge by Mnangagwa, who was sworn on Friday, to hold elections as scheduled saying the opposition was ready for those elections, but Mnangagwa must ensure that reforms necessary for free and fair elections are implemented.

“Electoral reforms that include complete and thorough de – politicisation of traditional leaders, should, thus, be promptly put in place in time for next year’s elections. That is the real acid test of the new President’s inauguration speech.

“Elections in Zimbabwe have been routinely rigged and manipulated in favour of the ruling party. Zanu PF has developed a notorious record of violence, thuggery and intimidation; particularly during electioneering times.

“Opposition political parties have been deliberately denied access to State – controlled print and electronic media and we honestly hope and trust that the Mnangagwa Presidency will usher in a more democratic and tolerant trajectory that firmly abides by all the dictates of the supreme law of the land.

“We now look forward to the creation of a policy framework that will, inter alia, create provincial and metropolitan councils, in tandem with the provisions of our national constitution.”