Editor’s Note: December 17, 2018

Where is the ‘new’ Zimbabwe?

Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party has endorsed president Emmerson Mnangagwa as its candidate for presidential elections in 2023, during its first annual congress since the ousting of longtime ruler Robert Mugabe.

The decision seems premature, coming less than five months since the country’s first, disputed post-Mugabe election, in which Mnangagwa was narrowly declared the winner with 50.8% of the vote.

It also seems oblivious to his government’s record during this short time. 

A promised economic revival has given way to austerity and Zimbabwe’s worst crisis in a decade. Meanwhile U.S. sanctions on Mnangagwa and other officials remain in place, with Washington citing insufficient evidence of reform, including on human rights, under his government.

The odds of these being lifted won’t be helped by reports that the party has also backed a plan to increase the minimum age to contest the presidency to 50. It’s hard not to see this as a bid to bar main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, 40, from contesting the 2023 poll.

This comes as the government prepares to release a report into post-election violence that left 6 people dead.

All of this is feels a lot like the Mugabe days, not the ‘new’ Zimbabwe Mnangagwa pledged during his inauguration.

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