Godfrey Gandawa’s Open Letter To Mnangagwa
6 September 2023
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Futures Past and Present: Congratulatory Open Letter to the Architect of Zimbabwe’s Tomorrow

Dear President Mnangagwa,
As I write this letter from my place of exile, a status not without its roots in the actions and inactions of your government, I extend cautious yet necessary congratulations on your recent re-election. This event arouses a complex medley of emotions, coloured by the years I’ve spent away from home, the tumultuous events of my 2018 Bhora Musango Campaign, and a narrowly-escaped assassination. Despite these personal complexities, the urgency of our national situation compels me to rise above my grievances, however reluctantly, and focus on the broader well-being of Zimbabwe—a future that now rests squarely in your executive control, itself precariously balanced.

While my congratulations come with reservations, they serve a critical purpose: to fortify the tenuous framework of our democracy and judiciary, which remain the ultimate arbiters of power and dispute. To those who share my grievances, I urge reflection on this stance. The alternative risks entrenching us further in a system increasingly impervious to democratic oversight and even to the authority of its own executive—a system that you, Mr President, were instrumental in crystallising, most notably in the events of 2017.

While irregularities have sadly become a recurring theme in our elections, what transpired during the recent polls was distinct in its audacity and execution. These were not mere lapses but a calculated orchestration aimed at discrediting the electoral process and sowing public doubt. Delays in ballot deliveries were far from accidental; misleading posters about opposition withdrawal were deliberate manipulations; and overt threats of violence were an unabashed exercise in intimidation. In sum, these were not the shortcomings of a disorganised system but the deliberate machinations of a faction within it, successful in discrediting the process.

Yet here lies the irony: despite your integral role in creating this system, it appears you have found yourself in a curious discord with a segment within it—a faction acting seemingly independently of your executive oversight.

The aim of these actions is clear: to stoke and exploit public discontent as a stepping stone to seize power, bypassing democratic channels. The key to neutralising this threat lies in addressing the public’s grievances. I propose that three areas are crucial for this endeavour:

1. National Unity, Ruling Party Cohesion and Historical Atrocities
Mr. President, both our divided nation and ruling party demand unity. Internal strife within your party, chiefly over succession, exacerbates tribalism, regionalism, and nepotism, leaving our social fabric frayed. Regrettably, even criminals have found more favour in your generosity than your political opponents in global exile. Your final term offers a rare opportunity for reconciliation. A special amnesty, paired with a 15-year-sealed Truth Commission, could lay the groundwork for a harmonious future.

Electoral trends in Bulawayo serve as a revealing barometer of public sentiment. Your relative underperformance, when compared to local MPs and councillors, points to unresolved historical grievances. Given your past role in security matters, it would be improper for you to oversee reconciliation.

The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) was constitutionally established under Zimbabwean law [section 251(1)]. Its mission, delineated in section 253, includes post-conflict justice, healing, and fostering national unity. However, its mandate expired on August 21, 2023. It falls within your purview to enact legislation either extending the NPRC or instituting a new body for the same purpose, thereby allowing a future administration unburdened by association to conclude outstanding matters.

2. Security Sector and Chapter 9 Institutions Reform
The integrity of our security forces is essential for the democratic vitality of our nation and, indeed, the stability of your presidency. The majority of our security personnel conduct themselves with commendable professionalism, beyond reproach. However, the malign actions of a rogue section, involving abductions, murders, and torture, have cast a dark cloud over their collective reputation.

The tragic death of Doug Munatsi, bearing the hallmarks of a professional execution, underscores this urgent need for change.

Implementing consequential reforms is not just a matter of public interest but is becoming
increasingly crucial for the sound governance of your own administration. It may be worth
considering the establishment of a specialised unit, akin to Germany’s GSG 9 or France’s RAID. This elite cadre, governed by an unassailable framework of political independence and rotating leadership, would meld intellectual acuity for information awareness and sharp assessments, technological supremacy for optimal operational effectiveness, and lethal prowess for unambiguous deterrence, all while being vigilantly accountable to an independent oversight committee and fortified by international collaborations.

3. Resource Exploitation, Land and Economic Equity
The untapped promise of our abundant resources has scarcely served the broader populace, a deficiency glaringly evident in the vexing land disputes in Chilonga and Mutoko. These conflicts erode our national values. If external investors claim the lands harbour immense economic potential, they must, in all fairness, assume the fiscal responsibilities for adequate relocation, equitable compensation, and a share in future profits for the community. Anything less would echo the injustices of the colonial era.

Despite the commendable expansion in our mining sector, the benefits have not trickled down to the general population, thus highlighting the need for a comprehensive, interconnected strategy. Once a topic for intellectual debate within Zanu PF, the time is ripe to reevaluate our economic framework.

While seeking investment remains a priority, due recognition must be given to the land’s communal value. These aims are not mutually exclusive with fostering a business-friendly atmosphere.

A transparent and technologically advanced procurement system could serve as the linchpin for the economic rejuvenation our nation so urgently requires.

At first glance, one might construe this missive as provocative. However, the discerning eye will find herein a committed plea for the betterment of our homeland. The euphoria that swept the nation in 2017 was not merely an indictment of past governance but a hopeful glance towards a promising future—one that still lies within the grasp of your administration. It suggests that the people of Zimbabwe have no qualms with you, personally; they yearn for a leader with the keys to that future.

We find ourselves at a crucial juncture, a moment pregnant with possibilities and fraught with peril. Your tenure has the potential to be a defining period in our history, with a critical five years ahead. It’s an opportune time to revisit the pledges of yesteryears, not as distant dreams, but achievable objectives.

Congratulations anew, with reservations intact.