By agencies: As Mugabe’s health deteriorates, so does the promise of a new dawn that has been dangled over the heads of Zimbabweans for decades.

Rising fuel and electricity prices, matched with a decaying infrastructure has pitted Zimbabwe in a worrying state. According to the most recent Freedom in the World report, Zimbabwe, under the rule of Mnangagwa, has regressed into the defunct state it was in back when Mugabe was at the helm.

“Zimbabwe’s political system returned in some ways to its pre-coup status quo, as the ruling Zanu PF party won deeply flawed general elections following the military’s ouster of longtime President Robert Mugabe in 2017.

“Despite Mnangagwa’s pledges to respect political institutions and govern in the interest of all Zimbabweans, his new administration has shown few signs that it is committed to fostering genuine political competition, and it has continued to enforce laws that limit expression,” the report read. he the man who killed Zimbabwe’s dream of freedom after Robert Mugabe has landed on his feet

When Alison Kleinwort’s brother Gavin told her he was going to central Harare to protest against delays in the results of the first elections following the toppling of Robert Mugabe, she warned him to stay at home.

“He was a gentle soul who loved playing his guitar and singing, but believed we should not sit down and be quiet when so much evil was happening in our country,” she said.

The next time she saw him it was in a zinc coffin in the back of a police wagon.

“I had to identify him by his dreadlocks and shoes because he was face down,” she recalled, sobbing.

Gavin Charles, 48, was one of six people killed and 35 injured on August 1 last year when Zimbabwean soldiers opened fire on protesters in a bloody crackdown that brought an abrupt end to hopes of change.

One year on, not only has there yet to be a single arrest or prosecution of the soldiers involved but the commander of the forces responsible has been rewarded by being made an ambassador.

General Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe, who was commander of the elite presidential guard that carried out the shootings, was promoted and recently named ambassador to Tanzania.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Kleinwort.

It is not just families of the victims who are horrified. The move has caused consternation in the international community which had hoped decades of repression had come to an end when Zimbabwe’s military forced ousted Mugabe in November 2017.

His successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, had been his henchman throughout his 37-year rule but insisted that things had changed.
He called for re-engagement with the international community and an end to EU and American sanctions to allow in much needed foreign investment.
Instead, the crackdown of a year ago has been followed by more killings by security forces, as well as beatings and arrests of hundreds of civic leaders, opposition and human rights activists. Last week, Victor Matemadanda, the deputy defence minister, threatened to use soldiers “trained to kill” against protesters.

“The harsh reality is this regime is as ruthless as Mugabe ever was; the only difference is it is more cunning,” said David Coltart, treasurer-general of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

In the past few days the British, Dutch and American embassies in Harare have publicly called for the government to hold the August 1 perpetrators to account.
On Thursday, Washington announced sanctions against Sanyatwe and his family for “gross violations of human rights”.

“No one has been held responsible for these heinous acts,” tweeted the American embassy. “The people of Zimbabwe deserve better.”
The Zimbabwe regime reacted with fury, its spokesman, Nick Mangwana, echoing past statements of Mugabe by accusing “foreign powers” of attempts to “undermine Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and posturing to fan divisions”.

The foreign ministry summoned the US ambassador, Brian Nichols, to complain. Nichols published an article for the anniversary of August 1, accusing the government of turning a blind eye to its own commission of inquiry into the massacre.

That commission headed by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe found that the soldiers’ use of live ammunition against fleeing civilians was “clearly unjustified and disproportionate” and called for prosecutions and compensation.

The military first denied the massacre, which was witnessed and filmed by international media including The Sunday Times, then claimed it was carried out by the opposition in military uniforms.
Sanyatwe insisted his men had fired only warning shots “fired at 45 degrees”.

“If any gunshot wounds were sustained by the victims, it was not from my men,” he said. “All those were shot before we deployed and this is true because we never came across a dead body.”

The growing international isolation of the regime comes amid deepening despair over the economy. Zimbabwe’s long-suffering population are suffering shortages of fuel, water, medicines and bread as well as long power cuts. Electricity comes on only in the middle of the night, forcing people to become nocturnal.
Many are now saying the situation is worse than under Mugabe, who ruled as a dictator and presided over the biggest contraction of any country not at war.

agencies, sunday times