There is narrative that is trending on social media where people juxtaposition President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the former Prime Minister of Rhodesia, the late Ian Douglas Smith, with some saying the latter was a better leader compared to the former while others dispute these claims.
I find those saying Smith was a better leader compared to the current President to be naive and deranged. They are just using emotions. Their conclusions are informed by the current economic challenges yet these hardships are not peculiar to Zimbabwe but most countries across the globe are undergoing the same.
How can Smith be better than President Mnangagwa when he made black people suffer extreme exploitation and atrocities during his rule? What has President Mnangagwa done that warrants him to be compared to such a vile man?
Under the Smith regime, black people suffered greatly. Black men were not allowed to hold political posts. They could not be elected into parliament, cabinet and local authorities. The black majority were not consulted in the making or amendment of constitution.
In terms of education, the system was segregational as well. Blacks were only taught practical subjects like agriculture, carpentry, metal work and driving of farm machinery. The economy was run by the white man with backs at the bottom of the means of production.
Labour policies were so repressive and degrading. If a black man sexually indulged with a white woman, he would be sentenced to five years in prison and the lady would get a two-year sentence. It was taboo for a black man to marry a white woman but white men could do whatever they wanted to black women, including rape, and get away with it scot-free.
There was segregation at residential level as well. Whites lived in low density suburbs and blacks lived in high density suburbs. Blacks were not allowed to walk in certain parts of the city. The list of injustices suffered by blacks at the hands of Ian Smith is endless.
Now a look at what the Second Republic under President Mnangagwa has done since the start of his term in 2017. Since coming to power in November 2017, the Second Republic has been doing nothing but the best in terms of governance and improving the status of the nation. There are no human rights violations in the New Dispensation. The President is focused on making Zimbabwe an upper middle class economy by 2030. He has been dubbed the Listening President because of how he heeds to calls made by the public.
A lot of development projects are underway and these are creating employment for many.
The new parliament building has been completed, Gwaai Shangani dam is complete, the 260 km water pipeline from Gwaai to Bulawayo is the first of its kind in Africa, Beitbridge modern border post with 250 houses for workers, a bus terminal and efficient truck route have been completed. Runde Tunde dam is under construction. All these and more were achieved in less than four years.
Through his engagement and re-engagement policy, three Zimbabweans were removed from the European Union (EU) sanctions. These are Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga, Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Commander General Phillip Valerio Sibanda and former first lady Grace Mugabe. This policy has seen Zimbabwe being invited to various world forums such as the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting which the President has attended twice so far. Representatives of various countries from across the globe have also been frequenting Zimbabwe to make this policy a reality, such as the recent visit by chairwoman of the Russian Federation Council, Valentina Matvienko.
When it comes to curbing corruption, the Second Republic's determination is unwavering. Former Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira was fired in August 2019 for corruption and criminal abuse of office. Former Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo was fired in July 2020 for corruption and criminal abuse of office as well. Recently, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Douglas Karoro was fired for criminal abuse of office. Even more recent is the jailing of former Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Petronella Kagonye, who received a 36-month-jail sentence for stealing laptops meant for schools under the e-learning project. Sheriff of the High Court Macduff Madega was arrested as well this week by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption commission (ZACC) for fraud as the war against graft intensifies.
The Second Republic under President Mnangagwa is committed to agricultural sector revival through the development of irrigation schemes to alleviate food insecurity and poverty particularly in rural communities. Dams have been constructed and some are still under construction to make sure there is enough water for irrigation. Some of these include Marovanyati dam in Buhera, Gwayi-Shangani dam in Hwange district and Tuli-Manyange Dam in Gwanda district. There has been an increase of 300 000 hectares of sugarcane and citrus farming in the lowveld outside Hippo Valley and Triangle for black farmers and Zimbabwe is now the third largest producer of tobacco in the world from being number 15 four years ago.
All the above is just a fraction of what the New Dispensation has been able to achieve. The achievements are so many I could write a book. The president is delivering on his promises. One then wonders why someone in their right mind would create content yearning for the past, for colonialism. It is probably because Smith is a descendant of their handlers, so by saying Smith is better; they are actually inciting their handlers to reverse the gains of Independence.
In the words of Gomo Tawanda (@tawandagomo) on Twitter, "highest level of idiocy is when you celebrate the Ian Smith regime and its brutality" and I could not agree more. Opposition parties funded by foreign hostile forces must learn to win elections through the ballot box and by following the right procedures for people mobilization like the 11 June cell Day by ZANU PF which is meant to focus on its membership mobilization structures as it prepares for the 2023 Harmonized General Elections. Idolizing and portrayal of Ian Smith as a saint to incite the nation and spite Government will not ensure a win for the opposition in the elections. In the words of Professor Jonathan Moyo (@ProfJNMoyo), "Ian Douglas Smith's apologists and supporters are barbarians!" And barbarians they surely are.
Nothing good comes from colonization because it is laden with cruelty and brutality of the highest level. This is why I say stand by the fact that black rule is better and President Mnangagwa continues to show that surely black rule is better because everyone is a beneficiary of these developments despite their race, unlike the Smith regime which carried out projects for the white minority at the expense of black majority.