HomeEditorial CommentWhy Mnangagwa is a presidential hard sell

Why Mnangagwa is a presidential hard sell

The humiliation that Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa suffered at Rufaro Stadium last week where he found himself addressing a small crowd of mostly uniformed forces is not anything that any politician can take lightly.


Mnangagwa must be worried sick by the May 2 scandal and ought to be doing a lot of navel-gazing to find what is wrong with him. He must not be fooled by the hogwash being sold to him by his real detractors who would have him believe it was the work of G40 machinations.

He must examine himself, locate and deal with his personal challenges.

Some time ago, I mentioned in this space how Mnangagwa squanders opportunities to endear himself with Zimbabweans by viewing himself as a sophisticated intellectual heavyweight who can easily trash people’s concerns with wit and arrogance.

Almost each time he — as vice-president of the country, leader of government business in Parliament and as Justice minister — is asked to explain serious national issues that touch on the lives of ordinary people, he always successfully wriggles out of the questions, avoiding explanation — and then he beats his own chest and laughs with pride for having bamboozled the people.

What he does not seem to realise is that people see through this condescending arrogance and then view him for what he is — an elitist who cares nothing about the ordinary people’s concerns and whose preoccupation is preserving his buttered side of the bread.

Even where it may really be unnecessary to be this mean and where it is more useful than harmful to explain things to citizens, Mnangagwa appears to take great joy and pride in coming up with some “clever” verbiage or technicality to avoid giving simple explanations that satisfy a concerned populace.

The people then begin to ask what kind of a president he would make!

Such incidences are many but quick to come to mind are cases where while in Parliament, he was asked about Itai Dzamara’s disappearance, the Johannes Tomana arrest and President Robert Mugabe’s health among many other national concerns. Instead of addressing these issues with the seriousness they deserve, the VP sought to trivialise them, making humourless and sick jokes out of them.

When MPs and senators inquire on government progress in the search for Dzamara, Mnangagwa responds in jest, sometimes suggesting that the inquiring legislators inform the nation of the whereabouts of the disappeared activist if they knew where he was, claiming their questions seemed to suggest they knew who abducted him and where he was being held.

He then says very little or nothing at all about the progress of the search.

The other day Nelson Chamisa, MP for Kuwadzana East, asked if the VP “slept well” given the factional fights rocking his Zanu PF party which threatened national peace. Instead of responding seriously to this serious question, Mnangagwa laughed and made fun of the question, suggesting that Chamisa directs the question to his wife Auxillia or his sister-in-law Jessie Majome, who were better placed to know if he was sleeping well or not!

The debate ended there.

These are some of the reasons why Zimbabweans end up not counting on Mnangagwa as a dependable leader. He just does not want to explain things to them. Where they look up to him for answers, he dismisses their concerns with jokes.

His latest stunt was at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair last week where, on being asked about the missing $15 billion diamond money, he presented an explanation fit for a scenario where a common thief has stolen a bottle of brandy from a supermarket.

He spoke as if he were some junior civil servant and not Zimbabwe’s vice-president who should appreciate and must have intricate detail of such a grave national concern on his fingertips.

He said: “You properly said there is $15 billion which is being investigated, which means the issue of $15 billion is under investigation, using your own terms, to establish whether it actually happened and if it did, that is corruption.”

He said this while fielding a question from a participant at the ZITF International Business Conference.

His tone suggested there could be some untruth in the $15 billion saga which was stated as fact by Mugabe in an interview in February. Mnangagwa referred to the outrage as simple corruption and not grand scale theft.

Needless to say, the $15 billion disappearance is the biggest financial monstrosity to ever happen in Zimbabwe and, instead of a casual explanation, Zimbabweans expected Mnangagwa to be a lot more serious.

Parliament — where Mnangagwa has built this unenviable reputation of twisting and trivialising matters leaving them unanswered — is a place for serious debate. It is a place where national legislation is crafted and issues that are of concern to citizens are brought to the attention of the nation by the people’s representatives — the MPs.

Parliament’s ability to impeach, kick out a president and craft laws that decide presidential terms of office shows just how important that institution is. That is why it is at this august House that presidents make crucial national pronouncements such as the State of the Nation address.

It therefore becomes worrisome when experienced legislators like Mnangagwa seek to belittle Parliament’s importance to a point where they take it as a place to display unproductive wit when they should be addressing crucial national concerns.

Last year concerns about Mugabe’s health were raised following his embarrassing and near-tragic episodes that saw him falling at the airport and reading a wrong speech.

Mugabe occupies the highest public office in Zimbabwe and he is entrusted to that office on conditions that include good health, fitness and capacity to run the country.

So, when concern about the state of his health and capacity to shoulder the obligations demanded of his office are raised, Zimbabweans do not expect to be insulted by arrogant jest from a prospective president.

Godfrey Sithole, the MDC-T MP for Chitungwiza North asked Mnangagwa to explain to the nation if Mugabe was still fit to rule Zimbabwe given his age and the two unfortunate incidents.

“What is the state of health of the president of the nation?” Sithole asked.

Mnangagwa replied: “I can assure the MP that the president is healthier than him.”

There is absolutely no doubt that at 92, Mugabe is very old, in fact too old to be made to be running the many and difficult national errands that his party Zanu PF is letting him execute.
Telling people that Mugabe is healthier than Sithole — however true or untrue that may be — does not at all address the issue that is worrying the people of Zimbabwe. After all, Sithole is not the president of Zimbabwe and his state of health is none of our business.
Likewise, seeking to trivialise the disappearance of money that could transform the lives of Zimbabweans overnight, exposes sickening arrogance and an attitude problem that places one far away from being presidential material.
The livelihood and future of millions of Zimbabweans is dependent on Mugabe’s health and certainly on the missing $15 billion!

l Feedback: tchipangura@standard.co.zw

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