Zimbabwean activists fear post-Mugabe human rights crackdown

Concerns over track record of new president, accused of involvement in 1980s killings

Emmerson Mnangagwa after being sworn in as Zimbabwe’s president in Harare. Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Emmerson Mnangagwa after being sworn in as Zimbabwe’s president in Harare. Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

 

Activists and human rights campaigners in Zimbabwe fear a new crackdown that could roll back gains made during the eight-day crisis that culminated in the resignation of President Robert Mugabe last week.

Relatives of victims of state-sponsored violence said they were concerned about the track record of the new leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was Mugabe’s right-hand man and is blamed for the brutal suppression of opposition parties during elections in 2008.

“Just because he has wrestled power from the devil does not mean I see him as the messiah,” said Patson Dzamara, whose brother was abducted in 2015. “So many have been killed, maimed, tortured or imprisoned, and the ones who are presiding over this transition are the ones responsible.” he added.

In his inauguration speech on Friday, Mr Mnangagwa said he would govern for all “patriotic Zimbabweans” and promised elections would be held as scheduled next year.

Meanwhile Mr Mugabe’s face “glowed” with relief when he agreed to step down as president , the priest who mediated his resignation said yesterday.

Fr Fidelis Mukonori, a friend of Mr Mugabe’s , laughed off a report by Standard newspaper that Mr Mugabe cried and lamented the betrayal by lieutenants when he agreed to resign. “When he finished his signature his face just glowed; no weeping unless there were angels weeping somewhere,” Fr Mukonori said.

Mr Mugabe and his wife will receive a “golden handshake” worth many millions of dollars as part of the deal negotiated before the resignation of the ageing autocrat last week. The exact sums to be paid to Mr Mugabe and his wife, Grace, are still unclear, although one senior ruling party official with direct knowledge of the agreement said the total would not be less than $10 million.

– Guardian (additional reporting Reuters)