Mnangagwa’s King Charles III photo opportunity is now his self inflicted coup de grace
9 May 2023
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By Wilbert Mukori- President Emmerson Mnangagwa is a man on a mission to get international acceptance as a great statesman.

So, he was thrilled to bits when he received an official invitation to attend King Charles III’s coronation. A chance to hobnob with world leaders was, per se, a public endorsement that he too is a world leaders. 

If only he had known what Commonwealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland, would say; he would have given the chance a miss!

“Pleased to welcome the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa to Marlborough House for a courtesy call. The President and I discussed a range of issues, including Zimbabwe’s ongoing application to re-join Commonwealth and reaffirmed the commitment to the values of the Commonwealth,” said Scotland in a tweet.

Last year Zanu PF went on a diplomatic charm offensive to get other African countries to support Zimbabwe’s application to be readmitted into the Commonwealth. The party was using the rejoining of the club as a platform to demand the lifting of sanctions imposed by the West on the regime. But most important of all, Zanu PF would have seen the readmission as proof the regime can rig the 2023 elections and still get political legitimacy.

The Commonwealth was not going to deny Zanu PF political legitimacy after readmitting Zimbabwe a few months earlier knowing fully well the regime was set to rigging the 2023. A Commonwealth endorsement would have given SADC leaders, most of whom are in the Commonwealth too, the country to grant Zanu PF legitimacy too. 

The Commonwealth rejected Zimbabwe’s 2018 application to be readmit into the club because Zanu PF failed to hold free, fair and credible elections that year. Secretary General Scotland’s tweet was the equivalent of the Headmaster pointing two fingers at his eyes and then at the misbehaving student in public – “I have my eyes on you!”

Whilst is the past SADC leaders have turned a blind eye to Zanu PF vote rigging and granted the regime political legitimacy regardless. The regional body will be loather to do the same again this time when Zimbabwe has been on the international spotlight over the vast wealth amassed by Mugabe’s wife and daughter. 

The recent Al Jazeera Gold Mafia has proven beyond all doubt that corruption is the main cause of Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown, not sanctions as the regime has often claimed. The documentary has revealed President Mnangagwa as just a just and ruthless buffoon, not the statesman he pretends to be. 

SADC leaders know they cannot endorse another Zanu PF rigged elections and grant Mnangagwa political legitimacy without calling into question their own commitment to democracy and good governance. 

There is a group photograph of the crowned King Charles III with Commonwealth Heads of State and Government who attended the 6 May 2023 coronation. President Mnangagwa is conspicuous with his absence from the group photo. 

“President Mnangagwa is the one taking the photo!” suggested one, mockingly. 

“His Excellency the President, Dr E D Mnangagwa, has just met Baroness Scotland, the secret general of the Commonwealth. The meeting reviewed progress Zimbabwe has made along the road to readmission,” reads George Charamba’s tweet. 

Not even the spin-doctor, Zimbabwe’s answer to Adolf Hitler’s Joseph Goebbels, could disguise the UK trip had been a complete disaster for Mnangagwa. He is rigging the 2023 elections is one thing but getting political legitimacy is proving a bridge too-far. 

Indeed, Mnangagwa had hoped his UK trip to witness King Charles III’s coronation was going to confirm his position as a great statesman only for him to be shunned. 

He needs to rig these 2023 elections but doing so could force SADC to finally deny him political legitimacy and thus indirectly delivering his own coup de grace!