The president of Zimbabwe would like the world to know he is shocked. After Sky News broadcast footage this week of soldiers beating an unarmed man in the street, Emmerson Mnangagwa tweeted that he was “appalled”. “I have instructed that the individuals behind this be arrested,” he added. It is unclear whether Mnangagwa has watched Casablanca, the 1942 film in which Capt Louis Renault, the corrupt Vichy prefect of police, feigns shock at the gambling in Rick’s Bar. Like Renault, who cheats at the roulette wheel himself, Zimbabwe’s president is perfectly familiar with the violence and intimidation routinely meted out by the state apparatus. Far from being an aberration, thuggery is Zanu-PF’s stock in trade. As former president Robert Mugabe’s enforcer for nearly four decades, Mnangagwa was the one who perfected it. The recent violence stems from a slow-motion economic collapse. The country — which has no currency of its own after hyperinflation destroyed the Zimbabwe dollar a decade ...

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