Zimbabwe: The "crocodile" smiles - and lets shoot
After the Mugabe era, head of state Mnangagwa promised a new Zimbabwe. Now his security forces have crushed protests bloody. Allegedly, Germany is also accused of having started the demos.
At the inauguration of Emmerson Mnangagwa, state television provided even the most beautiful pictures: 60,000 people cheered him in the National Stadium of Harare. Brass was playing, somebody was wearing a plush crocodile behind the new president of Zimbabwe as an allusion to Mnangagwa's nickname.
"The Crocodile" had apparently turned the fortunes of his bankrupt country in just nine days. He had managed to put the old dictator Robert Mugabe out of office after almost four decades. That was in November 2017.
Mnangagwa and crocodile in November 2017
Although the same Mnangagwa in his position as Mugabe's security chief had ordered the deaths of thousands and with the debt of the country's desolate situation. But now he promised in his inaugural speech an end to Zimbabwe's economic crisis. The fun with the stuffed animal should underline: In the future everything will be different, cheerful, better.
Last week, 13 months later, everything was back to normal: soldiers shot at demonstrators, at least twelve people died, 75 were treated for gunshot wounds, and there were more than 600 arrests across the country.
Shortly before, Mnangagwa had ordered that the liter of gasoline would be more than twice as expensive in the future. At $ 3.31, Zimbabwe now has one of the highest fuel prices in the world. People were taking to the streets massively, and then it was like Mugabe: The security forces brutally beat the petrol price protest.
Mnangagwa calls dead and injured "regrettable and tragic"
According to the NGO Physicians for Human Rights, there could be even more than the official death toll of twelve: people had deliberately shot themselves in the head, hid their bodies and arrested wounded from their hospital beds. The Zimbabwean Human Rights Council, a statutory body for human dignity, spoke of systematic torture by police officers.
Arrested people are waiting on earth for their court date
Zimbabwe had been under the control of the economic and monetary crisis for years under dictator Mugabe. Since Mnangagwa's entry, the situation has not improved, on the contrary. Although his government persistently declares that the bond notes issued in place of the abolished national currency, also called zollar, have the same value as the US dollar. But that was already a lie in Mugabe's time. And everyone knows.
Only one thing seems really new to Mnangagwa: His communications department shows that the boss wants to keep up with the times. He had to cancel his visit to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland because of the crisis, the explanation was polished political PR: "In the light of the economic situation," he returned to Harare, "Zimbabwe again calm, stable and workable."
Then he justified the brutal deployment of the previous week and defended the imposed price explosion as a "measure to stabilize national fuel reserves." The "unpopular" decision, he had "not taken lightly", but it was "the right step." The protests were "regrettable and tragic".
Mnangagwa on the spontaneous return to Harare
And then he equally condemned the deadly force of the security forces and demonstrators as "unacceptable." Both are "betrayal of New Zimbabwe". All deeds would be cleared up, if necessary "heads roll".
Foreign countries are to blame, but should help
But the only ones who are behind bars are leaders of the opposition. The internationally renowned pastor and activist Evan Mawarire was arrested for incitement to violence. Zimbabwe's main trade union leader, Japhet Moyo, was also in custody, calling for a strike during the protest week.
In addition, Mnangagwa's government sees foreign forces at work, they have instigated the protests. An author of the think tank International Crisis Group writes that in addition to the USA, Germany is accused of having fanned the partly violent demonstrations.
Footballers carry the coffin of their teammate Kelvin T. Choto, who was shot dead on the brink of protest
However, Mnangagwa will not reassure the Zimbabweans by referring to foreign powers. They bury their dead, take care of the wounded and still can not buy fuel or food.
The head of state urgently needs foreign aid to avert the impending collapse. A first appeal was partially heard: Although South Africa refused to transfer the $ 1.2 billion instant loan requested by Mnangagwa. However, President Cyril Ramaphosa called for a relaxation of the international economic sanctions inherited from the Mugabe era. Zimbabwe has taken "the path to democracy" and is on the path of "real recovery," according to Ramaphosa.
Mnangagwa made it clear at the end of 2017 that he wanted to leave the past alone. Now she has caught up with him after only 13 months. In party circles of Mnangagwas Zanu-PF is allegedly referred to an impeachment. Beautifully written press statements alone will not save the "crocodile".