In an interview with an American broadcaster, National Public Radio (NPR), Minister for Finance and Economic Development Mthuli Ncube claimed that former President Robert Mugabe was responsible for the brutal crackdown on protestors by security forces in January 2019.
Ncube made the claims notwithstanding the fact that Mugabe was pushed out office in November 2017. Below is an excerpt from the interview:
SHAPIRO: As we heard, the president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, campaigned on this message of Zimbabwe is open for business. Earlier this year, widespread protests were violently shut down by the military. International investors want to see stability and rule of law before they put their money into a country. Are you concerned that the sort of violent crackdown on protesters we saw will actually scare away international investors?
NCUBE: You know, we had a previous leader of Zimbabwe who was in power for 37 years.
SHAPIRO: Robert Mugabe.
NCUBE: Yes. Let’s be honest. When you stay that long, you become the institution. You erode all other institutions. So when we have a new regime taking over, it just takes time for the institution to settle down and take over. So what happened during that period, the intensity of the protests basically overwhelmed the enforcement – law enforcement agents. It’s very clear. But the president came out very strong, very strong and said, look, I like the president, leader of Zimbabwe, I condemn this violence from both sides. And I think that is a very, very strong statement.
SHAPIRO: It was not just the violent crackdown in the heat of the moment. There was also the arrest of more than a thousand critics and civil society leaders detained without warrants on dubious grounds according to Amnesty International. Does that kind of a crackdown, even outside of a protest, tell the international community that Zimbabwe is not yet ready for being open for business?
NCUBE: As I say, it is really about the ability to cope with such intense protests in a situation where some of the state institutions are not as strong because their power is eroded by a – this leader who was there for too long.