PRETORIA – Zimbabwe needs to urgently introduce and implement urgent stringent political and economic reforms, if the country is to turn the corner from an economic abyss suffered over decades under the leadership of former president Robert Mugabe, a political analyst said on Wednesday.
“In terms of the control of resources, I think this new government, as soon as it is sworn in, and President [Emmerson] Mnangagwa takes over and forms a government, we have to deal with the issue of property rights,” said Zimbabwean political analyst Otto Saki of the Ford Foundation.
“We notice that it was one of the reasons why de-industrialisation took place and manufacturing [went down] to the extent that we import almost everything in our country. Land ownership issues have to be dealt with. It’s pointless to have land without title, it is not bankable, as they say it is dead capital.”
Saki was one of the panellists at a seminar hosted by the Human Science Research Council’s Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA). The gathering was probing the status quo in Zimbabwe, and the outcomes of the 2018 general elections.
Saki said Mnangagwa’s “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra will soon become rhetoric if widespread corruption is not curtailed.
He also said the role of the military in Zimbabwe also needs to be clearly defined, and the defence force be restricted to its barracks.
“There is concern right now that the civilian face of the ruling party is not in charge. People doubt whether Zanu-PF as a political party won the elections or they won because of the help of the military. Events of the past few days add credence to that. What needs to happen there is, there has to be clear steps taken by the administration to indicate that there is a civilian authority in charge, and it’s a civilian administration,” said Saki.
“The military has to be confined where they belong, which is the barracks. We probably, as Zimbabweans made the first mistake when we celebrated the November 17 events. There is need to dilute the overt control of the military in and around political processes, but also in the economic sector.”
Piers Pigou of the International Crisis Group lamented “an ongoing security crackdown on activists” in the wake of last week’s tightly-contested general elections, a situation he said continues to degenerate.
“This is a live, unfolding issue in Zimbabwe at the moment in relation to the challenge to the election results and a related security crackdown on activists that is continuing as we speak,” said Pigou.
There are reports of abduction, torture, sexual assault involving members of the security forces in the wake of the violent crackdown by members of the presidential guard and military intelligence on Wednesday last week. There are a number of unanswered questions in relation to that security crackdown.”
Analysts at the seminar also highlighted the arrest of opposition figure Tendai Biti, who had however been released earlier on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa, David Hamadziripi, who also attended the seminar strongly disputed the analysts’ narrative of an ongoing military crackdown.
“It’s no secret that the police [in Zimbabwe] wanted Mr Biti to come and cooperate with investigations that are underway. It is very well and easy to make an individual appear to be a victim, without also acknowledging that they have a responsibility to bear, in the events that have taken place,” said Hamadziripi.
“Mr Biti was wanted by the police, and we believe the due processes of law will follow. There has been members of the MDC Alliance who were arrested, they were taken to court, and the court made a decision.”