“When a hyena wants to eat its young, it first accuses them of smelling like goats.” – Ancient Zimbabwean proverb
The military junta currently looting Zimbabwe is flailing. The government of Emmerson Mnangagwa is swinging wildly at anyone showing even the mildest hint of dissent, further signalling that repression is its go-to instrument of governance.
The renewed pattern of kidnapping and torturing innocent people is yet another sign that the wheels have come off the bandwagon, and any pretence by the Mnangagwa administration at reform is incoherent bullshit.
This is besides the fact that many unarmed civilians have already been shot dead on the streets of Harare, and nobody has been held to account for it. Not a single soldier who murdered civilians has been prosecuted, despite much pretence to be doing something about it.
Yet the accountability never rested with the soldiers on the street, but with the people pulling their strings. Nobody wanted to claim responsibility then – indeed, the “Commander in Chief” at first expressed ignorance of any military operations in the capital city, though he later admitted to it.
At the time, I found it funny that none of Mnangagwa’s advisors pointed out the obvious foolishness of admitting that he had no control over the army, which was a clear sign of ineptitude and incompetence.
In another continuation of policies perfected over 39 years, Mnangagwa and his junta have been jailing civil society members, accusing them of receiving sedition training in the most random of places, and hauling them to jail straight from the airport – do not pass go, do not collect $200.
Ridiculous charges have seen several innocent activists tossed behind bars and hauled before the courts for a never-ending stream of bail hearings and applications. Their crimes? Attending workshops.
More recently, opposition politicians, youth leaders, union bosses, civil society organisers, and now comedians, are being dragged from their homes, tortured and beaten, then dumped in remote locations. “Mugabe’s people do it, they’re a Third Force,” waffle Mnangagwa’s shills.
Abduction has been part of ZANU-PF’s modus operandi since the 1980s, further proving any attempts to divorce Mnangagwa and his coterie from their historical record as utter folly. While the so-called Second Republic claims to be a departure from Mugabe’s rule, the student has attempted not just to mimic, but to surpass the master.
In yet another replay of the repression we have become used to over 39 years of “independence”, innocent civilians were brutalised by the police just last week, with officers tearing into old women and journalists with reckless impunity.
Video footage of baton-wielding, jackbooted thugs wading into peaceful civilians was beamed across the globe while hired PR firms and their social-media surrogates attempted to paint the peaceful protesters as violent.
It would be comical if it wasn’t so tragic. No matter how loudly the military junta screams about being a departure from the ZANU-PF we know and hate, they simply cannot resist the temptation to revert to their baser instincts.
Suppression is in their system; despotism is in their DNA. Team Zimbabwe may have lost their head coach, but the team remains the same, and the assistant has taken over. If he aims to replicate and surpass the work of his former boss (which he enthusiastically participated in), we the people should be very worried.
The military is a blunt instrument which Mnangagwa has shown no fear of using, and when your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. All the fancy talk and planted op-eds in the world can never hide the truth – there is nothing “new” about Zimbabwe’s so-called New Dispensation.
These bloodthirsty predators simply can’t help themselves. They can deploy as many shrieking sock-puppets as they can muster, and plant rambling treatises in international publications, but the truth will always out.
“I can’t believe what you say,” the song goes, “because I see what you do.”
Indeed, James Baldwin. Indeed.
This piece first appeared on Rusty Gate.