President Emmerson Mnangagwa, under pressure after weeks of unrest amid reports of rights abuses by his military, has moved to try and shift attention back to his claimed reform agenda.
The Zanu PF leader came to power after a military coup in November 2017 and went on to win a hotly disputed election in July last year on a promise to “do things differently” declaring he was a reformist.
On Monday the Ministry of Information used its Twitter handle to announce that an Inter-Ministerial Task Force had been formed to push Mnangagwa’s reforms including dealing with red-flags raised by observer missions in the aftermath of last year’s general elections.
“Government remains committed to implementing political, electoral and legislative reforms aimed at deepening the country’s democratic processes as well as the ease of doing business,” the ministry said.
“In this regard President Emmerson Mnangagwa, has established an Inter-Ministerial Task Force to address issues arising from the reports by the 2018 harmonised election observe missions as well as the findings of the Motlanthe Commission.”
Most observer missions who watched the July 30 elections, especially those from the West, declared the elections were the most peaceful Zimbabwe had ever held but came short on the fairness and credibility score.
Even the African Union and regional SADC observers agreed the elections were peaceful but came short of declaring them fair and credible only characterising the polls as “reflecting the will of the people of Zimbabwe.”
However, violence broke out two days after the elections with citizens demanding the release of presidential results, forcing government to deploy the army which then used live ammunition against protestors leaving six people dead.
A commission of inquiry led by former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe set up by Mnangagwa to investigate the violence found the military culpable despite its stringent denials by the security services.
While Mnangagwa made the Motlanthe Commission report public it is the first time he has indicated he will make use of its recommendations.
Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, who came a close second in the elections, challenged the result at the Constitutional Court but his petition was thrown out for lack of evidence. However, despite the court ruling, Mnangagwa’s legitimacy has remained in question dragging the country into another political crisis.
The Zanu PF leader has been accused of insincerity with his critics arguing he “indicates right while turning left.”
This seems to have been confirmed after another round of protests broke out two weeks ago. Again, the military was deployed, and live ammunition used, leaving dozens with gunshot wounds while the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission said at least eight people were killed by the army.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice will chair the task force, deputised by the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Sibusiso B Moyo).
The Law Society of Zimbabwe will have a representative with the other members being the Ministers of Information (Monica Mutsvangwa), Finance (Mthuli Ncube), Home Affairs (Kembo Mohadi) and Industry (Mangaliso Ndlovu).