President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa’s bid to position himself as a reformer and leader of a new dispensation in Zimbabwe has ended in shambles. This follows the disputed outcome of last week’s elections, disruption of an opposition press conference by police, over the top killings of at least six people after soldiers opened live ammunition on unarmed civilians and the harassment of opposition members.
Mnangagwa then bolstered his image further when he invited the international community to observe the elections, including those who had previously been banned from doing so by the Mugabe regime. He also preached peace and tolerance during election campaigns.
However, the PR campaign that had given Mnangagwa a new look and traction which collapsed spectacularly last week.
The dispute over the polls was worsened by the cold-blooded killing of civilians in broad daylight by soldiers who had been called in to quell a violent demonstration over alleged electoral theft on Wednesday last week. The images of soldiers opening fire on civilians with one of them in a kneeling position have gone viral worldwide turning the tide against Mnangagwa.
It remains to be seen whether Mnangagwa, who is perceived to be the proverbial cat with nine lives, can recover from the wreckage of a shipwrecked PR campaign at the tail end of his bid for legitimacy.