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Zimbabwe's real 'Second Republic' was actually established under Mugabe!

01 Aug 2023 at 21:58hrs | Views
Ever since Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa grabbed power from then president Robert Gabriel Mugabe in a military coup d'état in November 2017, he has sought to portray his government as the 'Second Republic'.

But, is that really true?

Is the Mnangagwa administration correct in referring to itself as the 'Second Republic'?

Let us begin by trying to understand what it means to have a 'new republic'.

A good starting point would be the present political establishment in France - which is referred to as the 'Fifth Republic'.

Why is it named as such?

In simple terms, the 'Fifth Republic' came into being on 4th October 1958, with the signing of a new constitution, effectively establishing a new system of government.

This was a shift from the 'Fourth Republic', which was a parliamentary republic - predominantly characterized by a semi-president or dual executive system - which  spilt power between a president (as head of state), and prime minister (as head of government).

However, after a myriad of challenges - most notably, revolutions and the decolonization process in Africa - there was a need for a 'strong president', in order to have more control.

This resulted in the drafting and adoption of a new constitution - thereby, establishing the 'Fifth Republic' in 1958 - with an executive president, and Charles de Gaulle being the first.

In so doing, a new republic is created with the adoption of a new constitution - which ushers in a radically new system of government.

A similar context can be taken with the establishment of the 'Third Reich' by Adolf Hitler in 1933 - though a more totalitarian system of government, which centralized power in the Fuhrer.

This was a monumental departure from the previous relatively democratic Weimer Republic.

Nevertheless, the 'Third Reich' did not last long - in spite of the Nazis fondly calling it the 'Thousand-Year Reich' - ending in 1945 (a measly twelve years), after the defeat of Germany in World War Two.

We come back to Zimbabwe.

On what grounds does Mnangagwa refer to his government as the 'Second Republic'?

What new system of government - accompanied by a new constitution - did his ascension to power bring?

Did he not simply usurp power from his long-time mentor and leader Mugabe - and subsequently continuing with the same system of government, under the same constitution?

If truth be told, under an independent Zimbabwe, the only other time that a new constitution was signed into law was on 22nd May 2013.

In this regard, we are referring to a new constitution - and not mere amendments to the supreme law of the land.

As such, the real 'Second Republic' of the Republic of Zimbabwe was under Mugabe - and certainly not Mnangagwa.

Just as with France's 'First Republic', which came into being after the French Revolution and abolishing of the monarchy on 21st September 1792 - Zimbabwe's own 'First Republic' was founded at independence from colonial rule on 18th April 1980.

This was on the back of the Lancaster House Constitution.

Let me also hasten to add that changing a head of state can never be characterized as ushering in a 'new republic'.

As a matter of fact, France has had eight presidents since 1958 - from de Gaulle to the incumbent Emmanuel Macron - but it remains the 'Fifth Republic'.

Why then is the Mnangagwa administration so adamant in deceiving the nation?

Besides lying and deceit being the hallmark of this regime, the most obvious reason is that this was a vain attempt at portraying themselves as a totally different and fresh group of leaders from the Mugabe era.

This explains why they also had a go at calling themselves the 'new dispensation', especially soon after the coup d'état.

The brutal truth is that, there is absolutely nothing 'new' about this cabal reigning over Zimbabwe - neither are they a new republic.

They are just a continuation of the same Mugabe establishment - with one or two new faces and cosmetic changes.

Nonetheless, everyone else, more so Mnangagwa himself, has been a part and parcel of Mugabe's regime since independence in 1980 - the 'First Republic'.

This is the same caboodle that massacred tens of thousands of innocent unarmed civilians in the 1980s in the Midlands and Matebeleland provinces.

They are the very same faces who killed and mutilated hundreds more in the early 2000s - accused of being opposition supporters.

As such, it came as no surprise when the Mnangagwa regime gunned down, in cold blood, dozens of unarmed protestors on the streets of Harare on 1st August 2018 and 15th January 2019.

In all these tragic incidents, not a single state operative has ever been brought to book.

They are the ones who have been looting, with unbridled ferocious greed, our national resources - driving the country into unprecedented ruination, whilst leaving the ordinary citizenry languishing in poverty.

What simply happened in 2017 was an internal power struggle, in Mafia-like style - where an over-greedy henchman could no longer wait to take over from his nonagenarian godfather.

The rest of the system of oppression and kleptocracy remained relatively intact.

If anything, the looting increased to obscene and absurd levels - whereby, plundering national resources was no longer a thing of which to be ashamed - but done openly with arrogant impunity.

Only when Zimbabwe has a totally new system of government - preferably more democratic and transparent, with an uncompromising respect for the rule of law and human rights - can we declare that we are officially a 'Third Republic'.

As for now, there was neither a 'new dispensation' or 'Second Republic' established with the coming in of Mnangagwa.

The current government is merely a continuation of the Mugabe era.

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email:, or visit website:

Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana
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