[Hopewell Chin’ono is an award winning Zimbabwean international journalist and documentary filmmaker. He is a Harvard University Nieman Fellow and a CNN African Journalist of the year. Hopewell has a new documentary film looking at mental illness in Zimbabwe called State of Mind, which was launched to critical acclaim.]
Robert Mugabe was really bad because he didn’t listen to anyone unless under personal duress, and because of that terrible trait in him, it led to his spectacular and embarrassing undoing with the culmination of a military coup that was supported by the citizens and the rest of the world sealing his ungraceful demise.
Everybody was just tired of the old man, and regardless of the unorthodox means used to remove him, it was a popular and celebrated end of a disastrous rule.
However this was a thirty-seven year tumultuous relationship and journey between Robert Mugabe, the people of Zimbabwe and the rest of the world.
His inconvenient and unintended successor and apprentice, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has only been in power for fourteen months, but he has perfected his former boss’s art of not listening and being oblivious to what the rest of the world thinks of his rule, good or bad.
Mnangagwa inherited Mugabe’s Presidency at a time when everyone including those that never liked him were reluctantly willing to welcome Mugabe’s departure in exchange to the new political arrangement that involved the military generals, who later removed their uniforms and became part of the civilian political establishment.
The Zimbabwe Europe Network (ZEN) strongly condemns the disproportionate force Zimbabwe’s security forces have used against its own citizens in the past week, and is shocked by the seemingly random acts of violence.
Zimbabwean human rights organisations recorded over 800 human rights violations so far, which included at least 12 killings, at least 78 injuries from gunshots, and hundreds of arbitrary arrests.
ZEN further notes with concern the continued and ongoing harassment of civil society, which led to the arrests of activists and forced many others to go into hiding. Several reports indicate that family members of civil society activists have been harassed by security agents in the past days.
ZEN therefore calls for an immediate end of the violence against the citizens of Zimbabwe, and for an immediate end to the deployment of the military. In times of deep economic distress, there is a need for the government to ensure stability and the respect of basic rights for Zimbabwean citizens.
ZEN further calls upon the authorities to stop the crackdown on Zimbabwean civil society and their families. ZEN sends Zimbabwean civil society a message of solidarity and encourages them to stay firm.
ZEN believes the wider international community should strongly condemn the current crackdown on Zimbabwe’s citizens and civil society.
Lastly, ZEN supports calls by our civil society partners for the need for an inclusive national dialogue in Zimbabwe to address the current political and economic crisis. Therefore, ZEN welcomes the remarks made by President Mnangagwa earlier today in which he calls for such a dialogue. ZEN believes that such a dialogue can only be meaningful though, if the trumped up charges against the activists that are currently detained are dropped and the dialogue is underpinned by accountability.
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