Have Zimbabwe’s generals turned into democrats?


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In his well-cut suit, with outstretched hand and beaming smile, Sibusiso Moyo is the very picture of a modern politician.

He speaks softly, smoothly and pauses to listen as if he had spent years on campaign trails listening to the supplications of constituents. His desk is covered with papers waiting to be read and signed.

We meet at the start of what will be another long day for Zimbabwe’s Foreign Minister. Waiting in another room is the Russian trade delegation.

There will be more meetings after that for Moyo: diplomats, civil servants, and the possibility that the phone on his desk will ring with a summons from President Emmerson Mnangagwa – whose office is five minutes away in another part of the building.

The President has declared Zimbabwe “open for business” and it is Moyo’s job to make sure investment starts to roll in. This is after all the “new” Zimbabwe. But perhaps “newish” would be a better description.

After all, the president was for decades a loyal supporter of former leader Robert Mugabe, whom he ousted last November after 37 years in power.

Former generals who were all complicit in Mugabe’s era of oppression now occupy key positions in the Mnangagwa cabinet.

In his previous incarnation, Foreign Minister Moyo was Maj-Gen Moyo and commanded army operations in the provinces during past elections.

On the night of the coup d’etat, on 15 November, which would remove Robert Mugabe from power, it was Maj-Gen Moyo who appeared on television, in uniform, to ask Zimbabweans to remain calm and assure them that only “criminals” were being targeted.

Official circles in Zimbabwe frown on the use of the word “coup”. But without the army’s intervention, there is no way Mugabe could have been ousted.

I was present in the capital Harare to watch delighted crowds hoist soldiers onto their shoulders when news of the fall of former President Mugabe filtered onto the streets.

Back then, Maj-Gen Moyo and his comrades were the heroes of the hour.

There were not many Zimbabweans openly asking why they hadn’t acted before then or why the army had so enthusiastically supported the brutalities and corruptions of the Mugabe era for so long?

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(159 VIEWS)

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The Insider

The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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