ED’s Legitimacy Bid Crumbles Following Post Election Unrest

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 contested outcome of the polls by the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance was the first spanner in the works of Mnangagwa’s well-choreographed publicity campaign. The 50,8% vote he garnered was contentious and has been rejected outright by the opposition.

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.

To add insult to injury, police then tried to bar Chamisa from holding a press conference two days later in full view of foreign journalists and a world audience before acting information minister Simon Khaya Moyo was forced to intervene. The promise by Mnangagwa to investigate the army shootings implies that he was not the one who deployed the soldiers. It remains unclear who deployed the army. It also gives the impression that he is not in control as pointed out by political analyst Ibbo Mandaza.
“Zimbabweans who celebrated the coup were short-sighted in my view,” Mandaza said. “The police had handled them very well and had got the protestors to tire. There was no confrontation whatsoever between civilians and the army. In fact, the civilians were running away from the army. This was cold-blooded murder. I think that maybe Mnangagwa is not in charge.”

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.


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