By Allen Moyo
1. He is not popular:
President Emmerson Mnangagwa simply doesn’t have the popularity enjoyed by Robert Mugabe and will struggle to have the same political traction and monopoly that Mugabe enjoyed. Mnangagwa, unlike Mugabe, lacks natural political oratory instincts. His speech is not captivating as his predecessor, and simply lacks that persuasion that characterised Zanu-PF rallies before the coup, and under Mugabe.
Of immediate interest is his latest Matabeleland rally which failed to attract a crowd. Further, the Zimbabwean electorate, especially the rural one, is used to populist utterances, and Mnangagwa has suddenly become a realist in order to be different from Mugabe.
This makes him less popular and boring. I will not mention the fact that Mnangagwa’s name is yet to be a household name and will need time to market himself without the use of state apparatus, and the traditional leaders.
2. His first 100 days did not sparkle
The first 100 days of President Mnangagwa’s rule have not been too generous to his political aspirations. Whilst he may have managed to have had several meetings with investors, regional leaders and events like Davos, and locally to reduce police road blocks and so on – the economy has remained unrelenting.
On taking his oath, Mnangagwa made reasonable promises, and was hyped by the state media as a new type of leader that Zimbabwe was looking for.
To that end he made several pledges to the country and populace regarding his vision in 100 days and described his term as a new era and dispensation. He was even screened on television working on weekends, including Sundays which indeed was a new culture. He also promised a free and fair election, a shift on the land policy and re- engagement with the west. But it is the economy that matters, and on that front, the marks are not good.
In short people warmed up to him, and generally expected a lot, but the key problems still persist up to now:
1. There is no access to cash in banks.
2. Fuel prices have gone up.
3. Prices of basic commodities continue to go up
4. Unemployment is rampant.
5. Mpofu is still an “innocent” man when the public court had long convicted him, and corruption is still a reality.
6. The health sector is in a pathetic state, and doctors are demanding a better wage.
7. Civil serrvants are yet to get bonuses.
Further Mnangagwa and his governnent have been affected by the police killings of innocent citizens protesting against commuter restrictions. In the very end nothing much can be said about his first 100 days in office and to many, he has already failed. He would argue that the judgement on his performance is premature, but again he is the very person who naively promised change in 100 days.
3. The generational (age) issue
It is a public secret that this election will militate around issues of age and hope among Zimbabweans. To start with, there are more active youth in politics than before as proven by the number of youth who have registered this year (60%). Who ever is likely to win this election will definitely need the youth vote, and this could be bad news to Mnangagwa who will face the young, charismatic Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change. Chamisa is 40 years old, and Mnangagwa is 75. You do the maths.
Hate him or dismiss him but Mugabe was aware of this generational shift, and had already deployed th elike of Chipanga and Kasukuwere to charm the youth vote hence the provincial youth rallies and the 1 million march in support of the former Zanu-PF boss. Mnangagwa however has reappointed a 56-year-old Togarepi as the youth boss, and transferred his loyalty to the army (junta), thus relegating the youth to the political terraces. The youth, most of whom thronged the streets upon Mugabe capture have no hope in Mnangagwa, and this will cost his vote.
4. The Robert Mugabe factor
Firstly Mugabe under Zanu-PF was largely hated and not loved by many for his repressive approach to politics. Unfortunately Mnangagwa was never seen as the better devil but an equal to Mugabe, especially rewinding back to 2008 and 1983 during the election run-off, and Gukurahundi respectively.
Now that people are finally finding their voices, there is a general sentiment that Zanu-PF has to go, and a proper new political trajectory be allowed to take over to establish a new dispensation.
Secondly, there are also signs that Mugabe did not willingly resign as initially believed. Again this will affect Mnangagwa’s legitimacy regionally, and beyond. The challenge for Mnangagwa is to sanitise that with proper votes. This will also likely affect the votes he will garner in Mugabe’s perceived strongholds in the three provinces of Mashonaland.
Research shows that Mugabe enjoys some sympathy in those areas, and the harvest of votes will not be the same for the “Crocodile”, especially bearing in mind that the G40 and Mai Mujuru political outfits are projected to be stronger in those areas.
The spoils will thus be shared amongst the three, and the MDC may also perform better if the culture of violence is arrested as promised.
Equally, most people in parts of Midlands and the whole of Matebeleland still believe that Mugabe and Mnangagwa were responsible for the massacre of more than 20 000 civilians in the early 1980s. Neither Mugabe nor Mnangagwa who once called the victims “cockroaches” has asked for forgiveness.
I’m no prophet, but mark my words
I am indeed no prophet but the odds are certainly against Mnangagwa. He faces the obvious risks of being the shortest serving President for Zimbabwe is my projections are anything to go by. Regrettably he inherited a bad economy, albeit that he was always a senior official in the Mugabe regime and part thereof.
I don’t see any other way Mnangagwa will survive this election, and already he has made too many promises, and yet failed to deliver.
To survive the election Mnangagwa may need to resort to the use of the army. But again this election just like the previous ones – are more about power politics than about legitimacy. Violence will invalidate legitimacy and taint Mnangagwa and it will affect his diplomatic engagements.
This is my personal independent opinion. But as a youth I will also undoubtedly and unreservedly vote for a younger candidate, and encourage all youths to do the same. The MDC Alliance has a youthful candidate as its leader, and is also fielding in a lot of capable youthful candidates.
The future is for the youths and the youths wave is real. Its a pregnancy whose time is due.
Allen Moyo is a lawyer. This is his personal opinion. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of www.zimbabwedigitalnews.com
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