President Robert Mugabe seems to have a knack for making blunders whenever the country seems to be steering towards greater democracy and accountability.
After his government had just announced measures which were welcomed by almost the entire business community as the real first step towards economic liberalisation, came the bombshell -the pardoning of two men (both party operatives to a degree) whose conviction on politically motivated attempted murder had just been upheld by the highest court in the land.
The pardon has been condemned by almost everyone that matters, except, of course, The Herald, which felt otherwise.
The pardoning of Elias Kanengoni and Kizito Chivamba, though essentially a presidential prerogative, was ill-timed to say the least. Perhaps the President could have waited for the dust to settle instead of acting as quickly as he did.
In the eyes of the public this immediately translated into defiance of the highest court in the land, a thing investors, especially those from the so-called “free world”, do not usually take kindly to. It clearly gave the unfortunate impression that there is no rule of law in this land.
Worse still, since the two were convicted of a politically motivated crime, this has sent jitters among the opposition, weak as it is. They have now found the scapegoat for their ineffectiveness.
It is also unfortunate that the decision was made at the very time investors were saying that the only thing that could now derail ESAP was apolitical blunder.
*Editor note: Kanengoni and Chivamba, both central intelligence officers, were convicted of shooting former Gweru Mayor Patrick Kombayi during the 1990 general elections and sentenced to seven years. Kombayi was challenging Vice-President Simon Muzenda but was contesting as a member of Edgar Tekere’s Zimbabwe Unity Movement.