In yesterday’s edition we shared our thoughts on UNZA’s decision to confer President Edgar Lungu with an honorary doctorate in law degree, which we feel is a mockery to the President because he is being honored for doing just a fraction of what his job demands him to do. But while our Head of State basks in the glory of honour from the academia, we would like to transfer our opinion to another recipient of this award.
“Dr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa,” the crocodile, as he is ironically ‘fondly’ known to the Zimbabwean population. We are told that the University decided to honour him for the immense contribution he made towards the liberations struggle for his country’s independence.
Firstly, we must mention that this recognition is making us very curious. We feel it is a decoy to launder the scandalous decision of honouring our President. We say this because there are plenty of African leaders who came to get education at the University of Zambia, and they contributed immensely to their countries’ liberation struggle. Why single out Mnangagwa? It just doesn’t make sense.
In fact, Mnangagwa is linked to the what Zimbabwean call “The Gukurahundi” which was a series of massacres of Ndebele civilians carried out by the Zimbabwe National Army from early 1983 to late 1987. This President is accused of playing an active role in that operation, soon after Independence.
Perhaps the University of Zambia is awarding President Mnangagwa for good governance under his own regime. If that is the case, we disagree even more with the justification. Just like in the case of President Lungu, we struggle to find the special achievements that Doctor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has scored which can prompt Zambia’s highest learning institution to bestow this honour on him.
Just in case UNZA views Mnangagwa as someone who is transforming Zimbabwe after succeeding a dictator called Robert Mugabe, and hence deserves a special honorary doctorate for democracy perhaps, we would like to point out that the new Zimbabwean President was a long time ally of Mugabe. In fact, the two were so close that Mugabe trusted this crocodile called Mnangagwa to be his vice president and the two ruled together for years. During that period, thousands of Zimbabweans fled their country due to economic hardships and oppression under the Mugabe/Mnangagwa ZANU-PF regime.
If the University of Zambia considers President Mnangagwa as such a great leader who deserves this honour, if they think he is a freedom fighter who liberated the country, they should first honour Comrade Robert Mugabe, before his former deputy, because the two acted in unison when they killed and drove thousands of Zimbabweans into self imposed exile.
In fact, we must not ignore the elephant in the room. Let’s look at Mnangagwa’s rise to power. It is a public ‘secret’ that Comrade Mugabe, for his own selfish reasons, wanted to hang on to power even when it was obvious that his health was failing him and the state of the nation required a new generation to take over. It is also not a secret that the crocodile took matters into his own hands, using the army to force the ailing president into submission before he took over the reigns of power to this very date.
If we are going to call a spade a spade, then we must call it for what it is. President Mnangagwa organised a coup d’etat and toppled the Mugabe regime to occupy State House by force. The only reason why his rise to power may not be described for what it is in the history books is because the West and many African governments were happy that the Mugabe era was over after three decades. Otherwise, elsewhere, where such a military-orchestrated transition has happened, it is called a coup d’etat.
So if UNZA considers such a leader who bulldozes his way into a disputed election with the aid of the army, as a President worthy of an honorary doctorate, then we wonder what messages they are sending to the soldiers here in Zambia and to those who don’t like President Edgar Lungu’s leadership. How would Zambians feel if what happened to Mugabe happens to President Lungu, and in less than two years, the new leader get’s an honorary doctorate in good governance from a neighbouring country? What message does that send?
Have we forgotten about the bloody election in 2018 where soldiers were filmed shooting civilians before this President was sworn in? Was it not in January this year when President Mnangagwa’s government increased the cost of fuel with an unprecedented margin, thereby sparking countrywide protests that left several citizens dead? Is that what we are calling good governance? We are sure even the Zimbabweans are shocked.
Having said this, we don’t live in Zimbabwe and we would like to assume that there are a lot of good things that citizens there can say about President Mnangagwa. But if he has achieved so much for his country or the sub-Saharan region, would it not make more sense if a Zimbabwean university made the recognition? Have all the universities in Zimbabwe ignored their own hero’s achievements? Kaya!