The move by the United States to put Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Tanzania Anselem Sanyatwe on the sanctions list has demonstrated that the international community is becoming sceptical about the government’s reform agenda.
Sanyatwe, who was the commander of the troops that opened fire on fleeing protestors in Harare on August 1, 2018, became the first Zimbabwean to be slapped with sanctions by Washington since former president Robert Mugabe was toppled in a coup in 2017.
On the day the sanctions were announced, the US ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols had expressed concerns about the government’s failure to bring to justice
any of the soldiers that were involved in the horrific killings.
A commission of inquiry led by former South Africa president Kgalema Motlanthe recommended the prosecution of the killer soldiers over six months ago, but
nothing tangible has been done to bring the suspects to book.
On the first anniversary of the shootings, Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo penned a long winding article extolling reforms rolled out by the new
government, which he claimed had changed the political landscape significantly.
It was also revealed in recent months that the government had signed contracts with US lobby firms worth thousands of dollars to try and push the narrative
that Zimbabwe has indeed changed.
However, on the ground few are convinced that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is ready to go beyond rhetoric of “a new dispensation” and “a second
Mnangagwa’s government has demonstrated time and again that it is always ready to use Mugabe’s brutal tactics whenever its hold on power is threatened.
Only last weekend Defence and War Veterans deputy minister Victor Matemadanda boasted that the government would send soldiers that are trained to kill to deal
with any protests against Mnangagwa’s rule.
The August 1, 2018 shootings and the deployment of the army in January to quell protests leading to the cold blooded killing of at least 17 people is testimony
that Matemadanda’s utterances are not idle threats.
Last week, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches revealed how armed thugs tried to abduct MDC officials in Harare after an event to promote political dialogue.
The government has not said a word about the incident and it is highly unlikely that the culprits will face any justice.
It is in that light that rhetoric by Moyo and other officials that the new government is different from Mugabe’s despotic regime will not be taken seriously.
Only action such as the prosecution of soldiers implicated in the killings of civilians and ensuring that there are no people that are allowed to act with
impunity like those that tried to abduct MDC activists, will convince the world that Zimbabwe is indeed in a new dispensation.