Govt Critics Say Zimbabwe's Post-Mugabe Hopes Unfulfilled After His Ouster In 2017
The hopes of a new chapter in Zimbabwe following the ouster of the late former president Robert Mugabe in 2017 have not been realised, NewZimbabwe.com reports. Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s successor, promised sweeping political, economic and social reforms but instead, his regime has become increasingly repressive, curtailing dissent and cracking down on political opponents, according to observers.
As Zimbabwe heads for its August 23 general election, activists and others say Mnangagwa’s regime is increasingly cracking down on critics. They say repression has continued in the face of targeted U.S. sanctions against senior members of the regime, sparking a debate over their effectiveness. U.S. president Joe Biden said in a March message to the U.S. Congress:
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has not made the necessary political and economic reforms that would warrant terminating the existing targeted sanctions program. Throughout last year, government security services routinely intimidated and violently repressed citizens, including members of opposition political parties, union members and journalists.Feedback
Civil society groups and the opposition are doubtful the election will be free and fair. Several opposition activists, journalists and human rights activists have been arrested over the last year, including Job Sikhala, a Parliament member and senior official with the CCC.
Meanwhile, the ZANU-PF-dominated Parliament passed two bills aimed at restricting dissenting voices and nongovernmental organisations perceived to be anti-government. The Patriotic Bill imposes penalties on citizens for meeting foreigners to discuss sanctions or foreign intervention in Zimbabwe. Government corruption remains a problem in Zimbabwe, with the country ranking 157 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index.
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The current sanctions are holdovers from the reign of Mugabe, who came to power in 1980. In 2003, after a disputed presidential election in Zimbabwe, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions against Zimbabwean “individuals and entities in connection with undermining democracy, human rights abuses and public corruption” during and after the land reform programme. The U.S. argues that Zimbabwe’s economy collapsed due to poor governance, corruption and economic mismanagement, not sanctions. While some argue the sanctions are helping to keep officials in check, reducing human rights violations and corruption, others are concerned Mnangagwa has used them as a convenient scapegoat for the country’s persistent economic woes.
While the removal of former President Robert Mugabe was one of the outcomes of Operation Restore Legacy, it was not the stated objective of the operation. The operation was primarily aimed at addressing issues such as political and economic instability, corruption, and factionalism within the ruling party, ZANU-PF, in order to restore the ethos and values of the liberation struggle. The military and its supporters viewed Mugabe and some of his close associates as hindrances to this goal and believed that their removal from power was necessary to achieve it.
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