(By Iheanyi Ezinwo) -Last month, Zimbabawe was in the news: the military had arrested President Robert Mugabe for dismissing Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa, the vice president over allegations of insubordination and plotting to unseat him.
No sooner had the dismissed vice president fled than the military intervened, to checkmate Robert Mugabe’s unpopular decision to have his wife, Grace succeed him. Mugabe, who had been in office for 37 years was subsequently forced to resign, paving the way for the fleeing vice president to return and assume office as president of Zimbabawe.
While a section of the population are rejoicing that Robert Mugabe is finally out of the way, some citizens are worried that the desired change might remain illusive because political leadership appears to still be in the hands of the same actors who have been ruling with Mugabe since 1980.
BBC reports that, “Despite pledging a “new destiny” for Zimbabwe, Mr Mnangagwa is still associated by many with some of the worst atrocities committed under the ruling Zanu-PF party since the country gained independence in 1980.
“Zimbabwe’s new president Emmerson Mnangagwa has named his cabinet, appointing senior military figures to high-profile positions.
“Mr Mnangagwa has made Sibusiso Moyo, the general who appeared on state TV after the recent military takeover, the new foreign minister.
“The head of Zimbabwe’s air force, Perence Shiri, was named the minister of agriculture and land affairs.
“While the new president has chosen to keep many of Mr Mugabe’s former cabinet ministers in office, Mr Mnangagwa has also awarded positions to military leaders who have previously supported him.
“Aside from Mr Moyo and Mr Shiri, leaders of the powerful war veterans’ association, who pushed for Mr Mugabe to go after the military intervention, also got cabinet jobs.
“Chris Mutsvangwa, who heads the group, is now in charge at the information ministry.
“The appointments led government critic Tendai Biti to suggest that Zimbabweans were “wrong” to have hoped for change.
“Perence Shiri is a figure notorious for having led the military operation against opponents of Mr Mugabe in Matabeleland in the early 1980s”, and that the operation reportedly claimed the lives of about 20,000 civilians.
The situation in Zimbabwe to day can be likened to an old wine in a new bottle. However, it is up to the current leadership to demonstrate that indeed, the change in leadership was inspired by patriotic intentions, and not just the quest to remain in power.