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In Harare, thousands have been cheering the new president of Zimababue, Emmerson Mnangagwa. But he is not better than his predecessor Robert Mugabe, says Ludger Schadomsky.
In the middle of this week, the first “chitenges” began to appear with a new motive. These colorful cloths often worn by Zimbabwean women tend to reflect the political landscape of the country and, therefore, for the past almost 40 years, they have often worn a portrait of Robert Mugabe. But now, with the elderly autocrat finally removed from office by a sudden transition, they have already begun to print with an image of the new strong man, Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75 years old.
Although it might be tempting to see this new face in Zimbabwe as a symbol of a new beginning or even of national reconciliation, however, it is not at all like that. In fact, it is no coincidence that the former vice president has earned the nickname of “crocodile”. Since the 1970s, Mnangagwa, loyally dedicated to his political mentor, has done the dirty work for Mugabe: first as a bodyguard, then as head of the secret service and finally as a henchman. The new leader is not only responsible for the brutal murder of thousands of government opponents and activists, but also for the massacre of white peasants.
Mnangagwa is seen as the mastermind behind the bloody repression of the 80s rebellion of the Ndebele ethnic group against Mugabe and his Shona mafia, during which thousands died. It is hard to imagine that the Ndebele in the disadvantaged south of the country will now be happy to reach out in reconciliation to the new president.
However, Mnangagwa is considered to be ideologically less committed than Mugabe, and optimists expect him to bring a new form of “realpolitik” that will pull Zimbabwe out of its isolation and take it back to the international community. respect after his oath on Friday.
Therefore, it must be recognized that Mnangagwa was probably the right man in the right place during this troubled period of transition. He knows the business better than anyone else. But when in recent days the Zimbabweans shouted “chinja,” the local version of “change,” they should not have referred to a 75-year-old man whose political and secret service career had been so closely intertwined with the old Mugabe system. , like that of Mnangagwa.
In some parts of Africa, the crocodile is revered as a totem; in others, it is feared. During the last days and hours, the Zimbabweans have divided in a similar way. But one thing is clear: for the 2018 elections at the latest, this Zimbabwean ambush predator will have to give up and make way for real change.