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Coordinator's note: Three years after Operation Restore "Legacy"

Zimbabwe’s leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in as president on the 24th November 2017 to replace president Robert Mugabe who was deposed through a military coup. Today marks exactly three years since the assumption of Mnangagwa as the president of Zimbabwe.

The unfortunate events of November 2017 will forever be remembered as the time that Zimbabwe kissed "democracy" goodbye, with the military apparatchiks taking control in the running of the central government. While a majority of Zimbabweans wanted Mugabe to go, we became blind, and we wanted him to go by any means necessary, at the same time allowing the opportunistic Mnangagwa and his generals to hijack the people's emotions and modelled the whole operation as a "peoples revolution".

To some, seeing the back of Mugabe signalled a "new dawn", some called it "independence day", while the architects of the coup coined it a “new dispensation,” a desperate tact to sanitise the unconstitutional removal of a sitting head of state. A majority of coups in Africa have failed to produce democratic dispensations, ours was not an exception, examples being Obiang in Equatorial Guinea, Museveni in Uganda, Guelleh in Djibouti, Sassou Nguesso in the Republic of Congo, Abdel Aziz in Mauritania, Bashir in Sudan, and Deby in Chad. It was clear from the onset that Operation Restore Legacy had nothing to do with the revival of the economy, ending corruption, political reforms to move Zimbabwe into a democratic order were the rule of law is respected with citizens enjoying civil liberties.

In his article, Professor Jonathan Moyo referred to seven key demands made by the military on 16 November 2017 to President Mugabe through the then Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General Constantino Chiwenga, to justify Operation Restore Legacy. Where we so naive not to read through Chiwenga's speech to understand that the military had stepped into the internal affairs of a political party? Instead, we jubilated, and in our different corners showering praises to the military which was busy violating the constitution of the land. That is the very day that our political consciousness vanished into thin air. We were too desperate, too excited, we suspended logic and indeed it was a celebration of half time oranges before the trophy. We are in a fix and have no one to blame except ourselves as Mnangagwa and his henchmen are now in firm control of the levers of power. From the day they got into power they have been using every instrument available to close the democratic space, arrests, abductions and disappearances are now the order of the day. The new dispensation appears to be on a warpath aimed at muzzling opposition.

The constitution has literally been suspended with Statutory instruments being used to maintain ZANU PF hold on power. Parliament has since been made a joke, with recalls and swearing-in of losing candidates in the 2018 elections. What a shame! The proposed amendments to the constitution are a calculated attempt to impose a one-party state system of governance in Zimbabwe and the citizens must be alert and defend the constitution. The judiciary is now heavily compromised, passing bizarre and one-sided judgements thereby compromising the independence of the judiciary. Lest we forget that this is the same judiciary, that controversially legitimised an illegitimate take over of government in 2017. If the latest petition by High Court and Supreme Court judges confirming the existence of the capture of the judiciary by politicians is to go by then you know we are going nowhere fast. It is now clear for all to see that the so-called new dispensation, was just but a ruse, deceit in nature and character as it has proved, just like the old that there’s nothing new. Like a Candle in the wind, Mnangagwa's new dispensation will be short lived, its flame is way too delicate, "burning brightly" but the wind will prematurely snuff out its transient lifespan.

What is only new is that Mnangagwa replaced Mugabe and in only three years turned Zimbabwe into a Banana Republic where corruption, looting, abuse of human rights have become the cornerstone of his wayward leadership style. The Zimbabwe Open for Business mantra has dissipated into sparkles floating upward in the air, such that even the British who supported the coup are burying their hands in sand with shame. The bolts have totally disjointed and it will require a miracle to fix such.

A majority of Zimbabweans have now seen for themselves that they were duped as they sanitised a military coup and are now realising that the country is in deeper waters than we ever imagined. The solutions to this mess will require an all stakeholders approach in the form of a national dialogue, unless or otherwise Zimbabwe will remain a pariah state. Above all, there is need for massive mobilisation for a people's movement, morphing towards a broader alliance of the progressive forces if citizens are to reclaim their space.

We bring to you, Volume 6, Issue 7 of the Zimbabwe Briefing, coming exactly three years after the inauguration of Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was sworn in on the 24th of November 2017. This edition carries interesting articles from renowned scholars, activists and academics reflecting on the three years after Operation Restore Legacy.

Former Higher Education Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo says: “Operation Restore Legacy has proven to be a farce in Zimbabwe’s history. It is going nowhere and has no future.’’ While Dinizulu Macaphulana laments that: “The legacy that was restored in November 2017 was a genocidal and nativist political legacy. Instead of removing Mugabe and the nativist and colonial legacy that he represented Mnangagwa and his faction only enhanced and reproduced genocidal Mugabeism.” This edition is certainly captivating as we interrogate how far we have progressed after restoring the “legacy” and we do hope you will enjoy reading.

Below we republish the Coalition’s position on the 15th of November 2017 as the coup was unfolding.

We the undersigned civil society organisations guided by the Constitution express our concern over the political developments in Zimbabwe, today Wednesday 15 November 2017. We call for the peaceful and constitutional resolution of the situation and the immediate return of Constitutional order and democracy in Zimbabwe.

As civil society, we reiterate our position that the political transition in Zimbabwe must be guided by the Constitution and should adhere to all full tenets of democracy enshrined in it that include a multi-party democratic political system. We condemn any actions, attempts and interests to attain state power outside constitutional provisions.

We believe that the solution to Zimbabwe’s socio-economic and political problems should be a product of an inclusive all stakeholder process.

1. In the interest of peace, stability and progress in Zimbabwe, we urge President Mugabe to voluntarily step down and pave way for an all-inclusive all stakeholder process which will determine the future of Zimbabwe

2. We implore and would want to remind the Zimbabwe Defense Forces that they have an obligation and duty to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution.

3. In pursuit of our rights and obligations to the Constitution as citizens we urge the people of Zimbabwe to remain peaceful and freely contribute to their preferred way forward and solution to the current crisis.

4. We call on SADC to be the arbiter and allow an inclusive dialogue with political parties, civil society, church, students and other critical stakeholders.

We reiterate our position that events in Zimbabwe pose serious security challenges for ordinary citizens and global democratic order and restate our commitment to defend the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s political transition must be guided by the Constitution and a firm commitment made to uphold the Rule of Law.


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