(MENAFN- Gulf Times) 'We dare not squander the moment, Emmerson Mnangagwa said just a week ago at his swearing in as president, referring to the high hopes Zimbabweans had placed on him as a harbinger of change for a desperate nation.
Seven days on and optimism was turning to cynicism as Zimbabweans' collective high following the ouster of longtime leader Robert Mugabe began to wear off and reality started to sink in.
Yesterday Mnangagwa's cabinet was announced, with key positions handed to the military top brass who oversaw the new president's stunning turn of fate — from being fired as Mugabe's deputy just weeks earlier to replacing him and being hailed as a national rescuer.
No opposition members were included in the cabinet, dashing the hopes of many Zimbabweans for a unity government.
Those rewarded were the military and the politically influential war veterans who had backed the coup — all ruling party stalwarts and no new blood.
'Nothing new, same old faces that were responsible for our suffering for the past decades, said Emily Zondwa, a University of Zimbabwe student.
In his inaugural address Mnangagwa pledged reforms — with a focus on the ailing economy — as well as promising to stamp out corruption and hold elections next year.
He failed to mention press freedom, human rights or show much interest in bringing the opposition in from the cold.
'Zimbabwe, you are right to feel betrayed, tweeted opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) member and ex-minister David Coltart.
'On 18 November, we all came out on the streets, united as a people around a common vision of a new Zimbabwe. This cabinet does not represent a new Zimbabwe but the entrenchment of the old failed political elite, he said.
Coltart was referring to a huge rally where Zimbabweans of all political affiliations took to the street to demand Mugabe step down.
At that outpouring of hope, many protesters said they were aware of Mnangagwa's chequered past, but still believed any change had to be good change.
But MDC Secretary General Douglas Mwonzora said that the new cabinet showed Mnangagwa was no reformer.
'The appointment of the cabinet was an anti-climax for Zimbabweans; it showed that the new president is not progressive. This shows the militarisation of key institutions, he said, adding there were few women or young people among Mnangagwa's picks.
Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe's former finance minister and another opposition leader, said on Twitter that Zimbabweans had been naive.
'Up until now, we had given the putsch the benefit of the doubt. We did so in the genuine, perhaps naive view that the country could actually move forward. We craved for change, peace and stability in our country.
'How wrong we were, he added.
Mnangagwa has been linked to one of Zimbabwe's darkest chapters, the so-called Gukurahundi massacres of a rebellious Ndebele tribe shortly after Independence in 1980.
He denies involvement.
He is also widely believed to have been involved in violent crackdowns on the opposition in recent years, members of whom were threatened, tortured or disappeared.
He has urged his countrymen to 'let bygones be bygones and the ruling Zanu-PF party has said it will not be calling for the Mugabes' prosecution.
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