President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been telling us ad nauseam that Zimbabweans should not abuse the democratic space which he claims the so-called "Second Republic" has opened up.
"The advent of the new dispensation and Second Republic saw the expansion of democratic space in our country, as enshrined in our constitution," Mnangagwa said while officiating at this year's Presidential graduation parade recently at Morris Depot in Harare.
His posture was that of a benevolent uncle dishing out goodies and trinkets to noisy underlings.
"This culminated in the holding of peaceful, free, fair and credible elections. However, it is regrettable that some retrogressive, unpatriotic and selfish individuals are bent on abusing the democracy we now enjoy."
It is amazing how Mnangagwa and his government act as if they were not part of the dictatorial regime of former president Robert Mugabe.
Worse still, Mnangagwa was Mugabe's chief enforcer, right from the period of the Gukurahundi genocide, where an estimated 20 000 people lost their lives in the mid-1980s, to the time when thousands of opposition members were brutalised and killed in the 2008 Presidential run-off in one of the worst episodes of election violence the country has ever witnessed, among other atrocities.
For Mnangagwa to masquerade as the champion of democracy after being propelled into power through guns and tanks is hypocrisy writ large. It is laughable that Mnangagwa also had the nerve to tell opposition leader Nelson Chamisa not to abuse the democratic freedom he has presumably availed after the opposition leader called for demonstrations which were held yesterday. That the MDC Alliance is within its constitutional right to protest seems to have eluded the septuagenarian leader.
Giving testimony to the commission of inquiry led by former South Africa president Kgalema Motlanthe this week, Chamisa gave an apt response to Mnangagwa's claim that he was abusing the newfound freedom. The opposition leader said his freedom is enshrined in the constitution, adding that Mnangagwa was no Father Christmas. Muckraker could not agree more.
Mnangagwa's claim that he has opened the doors of democracy in Zimbabwe was exposed for the hogwash that it is last week and shows that old habits die hard.
Just before the budget presentation last week, MDC parliamentarians were forcibly ejected for not standing up when Mnangagwa entered the house.
The roughing up of opposition MPs with the exposure of female MPs' undergarments was undignified. A gesture of traditional courtesy is not compulsory. There is nothing illegal about refusing to stand for the President.
To make it worse, at a Zanu PF rally in Murombedzi last weekend Mnangagwa threatened that the opposition legislators would be thrown out again if they did not stand up for him. It is a crying shame that Mnangagwa goes to such desperate levels to get recognition.
After introducing command agriculture, command livestock and command fishery, he seems hell-bent on introducing Command respect in Parliament. Someone should advise him that respect is not commanded; it is earned. It is one thing to claim to be a democrat, it is quite another to walk the talk.
When confronted by the sterner test of democracy, state-controlled propaganda mouthpiece ZBC, which enjoys a monopoly in the country's broadcasting sector, went horribly wrong by sabotaging the beaming of MDC Alliance leaders Tendai Biti and Nelson Chamisa, who were appearing before the Motlanthe commission this week.
The ZBC attitude, though unsurprising, spells doom for any hopes of political democratisation in this country.
Despite the rhetoric by the so-called "Second Republic" regime that government was committed to a free and unfettered press, the blackout on the two opposition leaders indicates Zimbabwe is moving several steps backwards in terms of good governance. Interestingly, many others who testified in support of the ruling party's dogma which sought to peddle the propaganda that soldiers were not responsible for the shooting of innocent citizens were accorded ample time and were not subjected to technical glitches in ZBC broadcasting.
Regime apologists -- the name of one Gabriel Chaibva comes to mind -- were given the latitude to spew unmitigated propaganda for hours on end. Curiously, there was no interruption to the ZBC signal.
Chamisa's testimony only resumed towards the end, while Biti's ended a few minutes after it had started. Of course, with the eloquence Biti and Chamisa exhibited by tackling bread and butter issues, Zanu PF had every reason to panic. Even when clowns like the spokesperson of the Thokozani Khupe-led MDC Linda Masarira testified, there was virtually no interruption. When Mnangagwa rose to power on the back of a coup, so much was expected of him. He was not really expected to resort to blatant tactics of censorship which were last witnessed in Rhodesia.
If Zanu PF is certain and confident that it is doing the appropriate thing by trying to exonerate the army and nailing the MDC Alliance as responsible for the August 1 murder of civilians, it should not be afraid when there a dissenting voice discrediting its claims. The public are supposed to judge from all sides to make informed conclusions. Nothing is new in the "new dispensation", the leopard has not changed its spots.
A government of the people should represent their will. And one question Mnangagwa and his colleagues in the ruling party should answer is: If the MDC Alliance can organise a demonstration where multitudes voluntarily march in Harare to protest governance failures, how would it retain disgruntled citizens' faith by killing unarmed civilians? Also, why was yesterday's march peaceful without soldiers brandishing AK47s in the city?
Ruling by lies and coercion breeds contempt and usually leads to more chaos, a direct opposite outcome of the intended results. For the past 38 years, Zanu PF has learnt nothing positive, except polishing its art of tyranny.
Government can only attract investment and facilitate economic development when its approach becomes realistic, not relying on massive doses of cheap propaganda to sanitise its failures.
Transport minister Joram "jerry can" Gumbo constantly insists there is enough fuel in the country despite the sorry sight of long queues at several service stations across the country.
Comical Joram still insists that there is abundant fuel -- even as desperate citizens are sleeping in queues. How can a tried and tested minister pretend all is well when the rot is there for everyone to see? The fat cats do not suffer the indignities of economic mismanagement. The minister, who must know that fuel scarcity is not imaginary but real, should explain why the visibly long queues are not receding if his claims are sound. Could it be sabotage by detractors of the new dispensation? The more he constantly gives hollow assurances, the more discredited the clueless the minister looks.
Island of abundance in sea of poverty
President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga want Zimbabweans to use bond notes and Real Time Gross Settlements (RTGS), while the two chefs themselves use United States dollars!
In a typical case of having plenty in a sea of poverty in Murombedzi last weekend, both Mnangagwa and Chiwenga flashed US dollar notes, a currency that most citizens can only dream of after being condemned to bond notes and RTGS currency that is rapidly losing value. The nauseating hypocrisy of the two leaders, who harp on about servant leadership, is an insult to long-suffering Zimbabweans. The shameless double standards were on display during Mnangagwa's disastrous campaign in the run-up the July 30 elections when he stopped to buy food at a fast-food outlet in Chegutu with a US$20 dollar note at a time he was calling for an increase in the use of electronic money.
No wonder why the real, final and official tally of those elections remains a mystery!