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The Political Fall of Mugabe and his Legacy
By admin November 21, 2017

(AFP / JEKESAI NJIKIZANA (Photo credit should read JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images)

In a highly anticipated nationalized speech on Sunday, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe stunned the nation by announcing he would not be stepping down. This unexpected turnaround also comes moments after the governing party, ZANU-PF, expelled Mugabe from the party and gave him a Monday noon ultimatum to step down as president, or expect impeachment. Now that the Monday deadline has passed with no resignation, the ruling party is set to begin impeachment proceedings, with as little as two days to complete the process.

The rapid decline of Robert Mugabe fatefully started on November 6 when he fired his vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, followed by sending police force to arrest the nation’s top military commander a few days later. Many also attribute his downfall to the first lady, Grace Mugabe, whom the public perceives negatively due to her favorite pastime of shopping and spending lavishly. Their unpopularity is further compounded when Ms. Mugabe suddenly entered political life in 2014, heading the ZANU0-PF Women’s League. With the removal of Mnangagwa, whom many had anticipated to be the next successor, the way was paved for Grace Mugabe to ursurp the presidency, a move highly unpopular with Zimbabweans. This finally culminated in this past week’s protests, where tens of thousands have marched and called for the resignation of Mugabe. Although these recent developments have brought about another political bout for Mugabe, the roots of dissent had started many years ago.

Robert Mugabe was the symbol of Zimbabwe’s independence, a guerrilla leader who freed his country from white-minority rule only to subject it to far greater repression. Winning Zimbabwe’s first democratic elections in 1980, he rebuilt a nation crippled by 15 years of war and sanctions. He originally displayed no animosity towards Zimbabwe’s former white masters, but relations had soured by 1985, and a final rift occurred in 2000 when an opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) defeated a constitutional referendum that would have increased Mugabe’s powers. He retaliated by unleashing war vets that seized thousands of white-owned farms over the next few years, collapsing Zimbabwe’s economy, which was heavily dependent on agriculture. The government responded by printing more money, fueling a hyperinflation so rampant that at one point the Reserve Bank issued notes worth Z$100 trillion.

Today, Zimbabwe is a failed state. A quarter of its population has left, meaning more Zimbabweans now work overseas than at home. The average monthly household income comes in at $62, and life expectancy is no more than 55 years, one of lowest in the world. More than four million of its 14 million people survive on food aid, and one quarter of its children are stunted by malnutrition. It is also extremely corrupt, ranking 150th out of 168 in Transparency International’s global corruption index. The economic catastrophe Mugabe created is further compounded by political fray where factions scuffle for control.

At 93 years of age, many in the party know that there will come a time when Mugabe will pass. For years factions in the ZANU-PF have played politics to become the successor, including the ousted Mnangagwa who had led the Lacoste faction. Nicknamed the Crocodile, Mnangagwa was backed by the military and war veterans. Their rival faction, dubbed G-40, was led by the president’s wife and Jonathan Moyo, and it was supported by the police and mostly younger politicians with no experience in the war of liberation. Although neither leaders received blessings from President Mugabe, the combination of political in-fighting and a crippling economy eventually led to the backlash of the citizens. With Mnangagwa newly appointed as the head of the ZANU-PF party, we can hope that the nation can shift away from party politics and focus on rebuilding the economy and livelihoods of the people.

Further Reading:

Behind Mugabe’s Rapid Fall: A Firing, a Feud and a First Lady

Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe vows to stay on despite party pressure

Zimbabwe takeover: Five things you should know

The last days of Robert Mugabe  

Mugabe ‘let wife usurp power’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Thanks for sharing !


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