US Senator for Kentucky Rand Paul has said President Emmerson Mnangagwa is a worse authoritarian ruler than his predecessor, the late Robert Mugabe.
In his 2020 Festivus Report, Senator Paul said Mnangagwa has a dangerously low tolerance for dissent and unlike Mugabe who relied on the militia and police to thwart protests, Mnangagwa uses the military. He wrote:
In 2017, President Emmerson Mnangagwa came to power promising to be a reformer, despite having gained power through a military-sponsored coup.
Maybe he’s true to his word, and the U.S. paying non-governmental organisations to monitor the 2023 Zimbabwean election will help instil democratic confidence in the people of Zimbabwe.
But the evidence suggests otherwise.
Despite attempting to present himself on the international stage as a stark change from authoritarianism, notwithstanding the 2018 election, President Mnangagwa’s domestic record appears to be just as bad as Mugabe’s.
There is one clear variation between the men that has made itself apparent in the three years since Mnangagwa took over.
Mnangagwa tends to turn to the military (which helped him initially gain power) to keep the population in check, rather than depend on militias and police like Mugabe.
It seems as though this differentiation is a bit of a distinction without a difference.
Senator Paul suggested that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) is wasting US$10 million by paying the money to non-governmental organizations to monitor the 2023 Zimbabwean election. He added:
Yet Uncle Sam wants to spend American taxpayer dollars to determine if the upcoming elections there are, in fact,
But if the U.S. doesn’t pay for people to observe the ‘election’ to take place in 2023, how will we know how bad the situation is?
Well, perhaps we could rely on the European Union, which sent election observers in 2018 and will likely do so again in 2023, or others with a more vested stake in the outcome rather than duplicating or triplicating efforts.
Will it all make any difference? Decades and decades of charges against Mugabe’s elections did not cause him to become more democratic, nor did they drive him from office.
So why is the State Department spending $10 million so it can have something to waive around when it ultimately points its finger at Zimbabwe’s leadership and says, Shame on you?