'Zanu PF purge bad omen for rights'

HARARE - Human rights campaigners have warned of the spectre of worsening repression in Zimbabwe after President Robert Mugabe appointed Emmerson Mnangagwa, a hardliner, as his deputy.

Mugabe on Thursday appointed  Justice minister Mnangagwa and Ambassador Phelekezela Mphoko to be his deputies in the party and in government.

This follows Mugabe’s firing of Vice President Joice Mujuru from government together with eight other ministers whom he publicly accused of plotting to murder him.

Earlier last week at the Zanu PF’s 6th Congress, Mugabe  secured party endorsement to be the party’s 2018 presidential candidate, when he will be 94; appointed his wife to head the women’s wing of the party; and had the party’s constitution amended to allow him to make all senior party appointments.

Although Mnangagwa portrays himself as being “as soft as wool” and a devout Christian, many are fearful of his reputation as a hardliner.

Mnangagwa served as Zimbabwe’s state security minister in the 1980s, during Mugabe’s crackdown on an uprising in the country’s Matabeleland and Midlands provinces, and was Mugabe’s chief election agent during the 2008 and 2013 elections, both polls were sullied by allegations of ballot fraud and political violence.

Mnangagwa told VOA that Zimbabweans had nothing to fear.

“Those who fear me are not honest people.”

Asked who the real Mnangagwa was, he retorted: “He is a villager from Zvishavane, brought up by the revolution and continues to serve his country as a revolutionary.”

Dewa Mavhinga, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said for many Zimbabweans, these changes in the Zanu PF leadership, particularly Mugabe’s presidential endorsement for 2018, reflect a consolidation of Mugabe’s grip on the party and government, a retention of the status quo and dashes expectations for lasting rights reforms.

“Mnangagwa and his supporters are widely perceived to be hardliners likely to use repressive measures to control Zimbabweans while ignoring steps to improve the human rights environment and people’s livelihoods,” Mavhinga said.

“On the other hand, the now vanquished Mujuru camp was viewed as moderate and open to engagement to push for rights and governance reforms that could have restored investor confidence and revived the economy.”

Mugabe’s purge of several senior officials has created tension within the party and could trigger instability within the country, as Zanu PF has close ties to the security forces leadership, which has a long history of being highly partisan on behalf of the ruling party.

“It would be good to see President Mugabe and his ‘new’ crop of party leaders publicly commit to respect human rights, back democratic processes and implement important rights reforms essential for economic development and improvement in the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans,” Mavhinga said.

“Few feel this reshuffle will bring that.”

Comments (2)

Dear VP Mnangagwa are you an honest man? Wake dear Sir. Zimbabweans are a deeply oppressed nation by your very own ZPF. That is the truth. Get out your bible and begin to seek God; really seek Him. Ask Him to reveal Zimbabwe to you through His eyes. You are looking at thinks through the eyes of a blind man if you cannot see that ZPF have ruled by fear. Let us clean house before God and you will see big changes: let is stop deluding our selves. God sees EVERYTHING!

Righteous Justice - 13 December 2014

People its time to abreast yourselves with facts here. Never expect Mnangagwa to bring any human rights and constitutional rights reforms in Zim's politics. If you want to know him better you must be aware that he is the man behind the massive 2013 election rigging and as we all know and are aware, Zanu Pf has lost supporters, it has the minority of supporters in the country but have been surviving by rigging.So this Mnangagwa will do everything in his power to get his own term again after Mugabe's era,whether Mugabe reaches 2018 to contest or something happens to him before 2018, Mnangagwa will never watch another possible full term in office as Zim President slip away from his hands. If there is anything opposition parties should start fighting for right now is to level the political field because 2018 is not far.

Garai - 13 December 2014

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