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November 2017: Wharton is being dishonest

11 Mar 2019 at 09:53hrs | Views
This month former American Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Bruce Wharton and former American Ambassador to Liberia, Linda Thomas-Greenfield published an article on the Zimbabwe's 2017 transition from the old administration led by former President, Robert Mugabe to the new one led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the March and April 2019 edition of the (American) Army University Press' Military Review magazine.

The two former diplomats sought to use the article entitled, Zimbabwe's Coup: Net gain or No Gain to argue that Operation Restore Legacy, which brought President Mnangagwa into power in 2017 was a military coup. They also sought to give the erroneous impression that since the transition, there has been no meaningful change for the ordinary person on the ground and, in the process, ended up lying about the situation in the country post November 2017.

Coup that never was
"It was, of course, a coup albeit one that had been informally endorsed by a jubilant public..." they insisted. This was despite the fact that Mugabe resigned on 21 November 2017 as the spectre of embarrassment of an impeachment by Parliament increasingly became reality by the hour. One wonders what manner of coup it was, as the two Americans insisted, where the outgoing leader went about discharging his mandate such as presiding over State University graduations as he did on 17 November 2017 when he, as the then Zimbabwe Open University chancellor, officiated at that institution's graduation ceremony.

 The American former diplomats insisted on describing the transition as a coup despite High Court Judge, Justice George Chiweshe's ruling that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF)'s intervention in ZANU PF's succession issue to maintain peace and order, was perfectly constitutional. The matter had been brought by political activists Joseph EvurathSibanda and Leonard Chikomba. The two also disregarded the fact that Mugabe's party' ZANU PF unanimously agreed to second President Mnangagwa to finish off the remainder of his term. If all these steps were followed and Zimbabweans were happy, one wonders what kind of coup the two former diplomats were writing about.  

Conflicted diplomats
Realising that the Southern African Development Community, the African Union and the whole world, save the United States of course, had warmly received President Mnangagwa with former US ally Britain warming up to his administration, the two diplomats could not hide their agency for the MDC Alliance anymore. They took issue with President Mnangagwa for not appointing some members of the opposition despite the fact that he was just completing Mugabe's term.

 Yes, the opposition participated in the operation as did other ordinary Zimbabweans and no reward was ever promised to anyone, least of all the opposition. Being members of the opposition party did not make them a very special political class meriting special treatment. In any case, this was an intra-term event and not a post-poll event where the ever-losing opposition could plead for some seats. The former diplomats were conflicted. When they started off their article, the two mounted a pedestal to lecture loud and long on how President Mnangagwa and the ZDF allegedly staged a coup but the former ambassadors ended up agreeing with the operation to the extent of wishing if the opposition had also benefited therefrom.

Frustrated by the fact that there was nothing that the US government could have done for their perennial-loser friends in the opposition compound in terms of getting spin offs from the operation, Thomas-Greenfield and Wharton trained their guns on President Mnangagwa's Cabinet. To strengthen their coup narrative they claimed that "(President) Mnangagwa's Cabinet was heavy on career military officers who traded in their epaulettes for pinstripes confirming for all that this was nothing less than a coup." The former diplomats were conflicted again.

In their country many former military officials serve in Government with no one finding fault with the practice. Many such examples abound. Charles Ray, who served as the US Ambassador to Zimbabwe from 2009 to 2012, served in the United States Army for twenty years. Collin Powell, who served as the United States' Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005, has a 35-year military career under his belt.
Surely, what is good for the goose should be equally good for the gander. If American citizens can cap off their military careers by serving their people in government with no one finding anything wrong with that, then nobody especially foreigners should find it amiss that seasoned Zimbabwean soldiers take up positions in serving their nations in Government.

Vice President ConstantinoChiwenga, Ministers Sibusiso Moyo and Perence Shiri retired from the ZDF and took up Cabinet positions just like Powell and Ray. One wonders what the fuss is all about. Wharton and Thomas-Greenfield's obsession with the Zimbabwe's former military officers in Government paradoxically served to expose their own double standards instead of driving their coup narrative as they intended.

The new dispensation
The two former ambassadors also sought to punch holes in President Mnangagwa's administration in order to justify their government's long held plans to unseat ZANU PF by inciting Zimbabwe's citizens to rise against their government and replace it with the pliant opposition. They intended to create the impression that nothing has changed since 24 November 2017. Admittedly the economy is going through a rough patch but this is because, given America's illegal and punitive sanctions, Zimbabwe has not been able to obtain any credit lines to turn around her economy. This is worsened by the fact that the economic decay of nearly 20 years cannot be reversed overnight.

Notwithstanding these challenges, Government through the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) is sparing no effort or resource to ensure that the economy turns around and people's lives improve. For example, in a bid to address legacyeconomic issues from the previous administration, Government revised the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act and struck off the 51 percent stockholding by locals except for the platinum and diamond mining sectors.

The compensation of the former white farmers, whose land was used to resettle over 300 000 families by the previous administration under the land reform programme, is being pursued. So far Government has set aside $53 million for this purpose. Whether this figure suffices or not is not important at this stage. What is important is Government's commitment to compensating the former farmers. It is a good starting point.

On the political front, if the main opposition party, the MDC Alliance's leader, Nelson Chamisa was honest, he would be the first to testify of the opened democratic space which allowed him to chalk up over 80 campaign rallies last year mostly in rural areas which were no go areas for the opposition during Mugabe's reign. Under the new dispensation, election observers from the West were allowed to observe Zimbabwe's 2018 elections for the first time since 2002.

Yes, the 1 August incident regrettably happened and President Mnangagwa set up a Commission of Enquiry led by the former South African President, Kgalema Motlanthe to investigate the matter. Unlike Mugabe, who sat over such findings, President Mnangagwa has set up a taskforce, which is led by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi, to address issues arising from the commission's findings and the various reports submitted by various election observer missions on last year's elections.

Following the 14 to 16 January violent and destructive riots over fuel prices increases, there have been charges of alleged human rights abuses by security services personnel. President Mnangagwa has already allowed the United Nations Human Rights Council to come to Zimbabwe to investigate the matter.
On the diplomatic front, the President has adopted a re-engagement policy which has seen him travel to a number of countries to re-kindle diplomatic relations and economic ties following nearly two decades of Mugabe's go-to-hell politics and foreign policy especially with the West.

Given the foregoing, whether Wharton and Thomas-Greenfield chose to call November 2017 a coup or not that remains their problem. Zimbabwe is moving forward with progressive nations of the world which share her desire for development and economic growth.

Source - Nobleman Runyanga
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