Zimbabwe’s friends should be wary of getting too close to the Crocodile | Letters

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Zimbabwe’s new president Emmerson Mnangagwa – nicknamed ‘the Crocodile’ – with his wife Auxillia speaking at Zanu-PF headquarters on Wednesday. Photograph: Foto24/Getty Images

Emmerson Mnangagwa talks of “a new era” and says that rebuilding Zimbabwe “is not a job for Zanu-PF alone but for all the people” (Mugabe finally relinquishes power, 22 November). Yet the track record of the man known as “the Crocodile” does not support this sentiment. He is almost as much to blame for Zimbabwe’s ills as the deposed Robert Mugabe.

Mnangagwa and the generals forced Mugabe to step down as a result of an increasingly vicious battle within Zanu-PF, and not because they had a sudden conversion to the cause of democracy and human rights. Thus Boris Johnson is correct to warn that Zimbabwe may merely shift from one despotic regime to another. However, in recent times the UK has been criticised by Zimbabwean civil society and opposition parties for cosying up to Mnangagwa as part of what appears to have been an “anyone but Grace Mugabe” strategy.

Zimbabwean civil society organisations are telling us that democratic nations should make it clear – in both word and deed – that what Zimbabwe needs is a legitimate, inclusive and law-abiding government that upholds the rights of all its citizens. For now, we can only say it is the Zimbabwean people’s struggle for freedom that has entered “a new era”. Their struggle is more likely to succeed if international engagement with the country is principled and coherent.
Sunit Bagree
Senior campaigns officer, Action for Southern Africa

• Your report “Emmerson Mnangagwa hails ‘new democracy’ in Zimbabwe” (22 November) was a good article and indeed you were right to put the various claims of new and unfolding democracy in quotation marks. Even better would have been to report on parts of the speech that were in Shona. These include Mnangagwa stating that “those who impose us can bark like dogs, but Zanu-PF will keep ruling and ruling”.
Louise Mellor
London

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