Guest Column

Mnangagwa's uphill battle to a new Zimbabwe

2017-11-22 08:20
Zimbabweans celebrate after President Robert Mugabe's resignation. (Marco Longari/AFP)

Zimbabweans celebrate after President Robert Mugabe's resignation. (Marco Longari/AFP)

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Enock Mudzamiri

There are probably only a few, if any cases in recent history where a sitting president resigned in the midst of an impeachment process.

President Robert Mugabe was cornered and had nowhere to go. He risked losing his benefits and future safety if he got fired from government and his advisers probably urged him to take that route.

There is also the issue of pride and Mugabe is known to be a proud and stubborn man. A highly calculated politician, when he saw that there was nowhere to go, he may have probably opted to retain the dignity he had left and resign. 

There can now be no more uncertainty about where the political power lies. The Emmerson Mnangagwa faction is in full control of Zanu-PF.

But this is a faction that is yet to gain legitimacy from various quarters of the Zimbabwean society.

Politically and economically Mnangagwa will have to satisfy a variety of interests to acquire both internal and international legitimacy – otherwise it will be business as usual in Zanu-PF.

Firstly, the Ndebeles have no kind words for Mnangagwa and the security establishment for the Gukurahundi atrocities they committed.

Second, the opposition, who in spite of their excitement over the prospects of Mugabe's demise, regard Mnangagwa and the military with mistrust, considering that they are the ones who engineered the bloody 2008 run-off elections.

Third, white farmers whose land was expropriated will be waiting in line for some form of restitution.

Then there is the international community. So far the SADC is happy with the way things turned out because the former liberation movement did not collapse.

We are all aware that the former national liberation movements in the region have a vested interest in ensuring the survival of their kind.

With regards the UK and US, they will work with any leader who guarantees the survival and protection of their economic and geopolitical interests, dictator or not. China is also an interested party and would be very happy that their listening post in southern Africa is intact and their preferred successor is in control.

Lastly, the ordinary person on the street does not think much about politics as long as she or he does not struggle to feed the family. So Mnangagwa has these as some of his core interests to consider. 

Internally, though, the best way to go about it would be a transitional government that incorporates all the interests in Zimbabwe.

To gain legitimacy with the Ndebele, Mnangagwa would have to rope in individuals like Dumiso Dabengwa, who is respected in the Ndebele community, bring back Joice Mujuru to diffuse any thinking that this was a factional victory, and incorporate the opposition to have confidence and legitimacy in the eyes of those who think that this is a Zanu-PF battle.

But most of all, internal support will be crucial to gain the trust of the international community so that aid and investment can start flowing to Zimbabwe.

If it happens that way, will this transitional government augur well with a military that is now in full control of the political process and whose members may also want to go into formal politics? If denied that opportunity, are they going to continue to play an active role in Zimbabwe's politics by intervening when they feel their voice is being ignored? We stand to see.

However, ideologically there is still the challenge of perpetuating the cult of personality but with a different face.

As long as that generation of liberation war heroes are still playing an active role in Zimbabwe's politics and view themselves as the stockholders of the Zimbabwean revolution, we will see no change in terms of how the state is structured, and the conflation of party, government and state.

They will now be liberation war heroes for a second time – first against Smith and again against Mugabe – hence the need for a paradigm shift in how Zimbabweans perceive political leadership.

- Enock C. Mudzamiri is a DLitt et DPhil student in Politics at the University of South Africa with a special interest in Zimbabwean politics.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  emmerson mnangagwa  |  zimbabwe  |  harare  |  zimbabwe coup

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