Events in the last two weeks in Zimbabwe which crystalized Tuesday, with the resignation of Robert Mugabe, the 93-old President who ruled the Southern country for 37 years since independence may have opened a completely new chapter in the history of the Southern African country.
Not many would have predicted Mugabe would exit soon since he had never hidden his intention to stay in power for life! However, the resolve of the people’s power backed by the Military saw him throw in the towel last Tuesday.
Despite his many “sins” against his country, I would never support any undemocratic change of government especially when spear- headed by the Military. The Zimbabwean Military seemed to be fully aware that their so called “operation” was going to hit the rock if they termed it a direct Coup even though that is exactly what it was.
It was therefore in the enlightened self interest of the Military Commanders that they chose the path of persuasion for Mugabe to relinquish power to Emmerson Nnagagwa, his deputy whom he sacked from office about a week earlier to supposedly pave the way for his wife, Grace , 52, to take over.
The whole drama that led to Mugabe’s exit was a self-serving expedition and was not in the interest of Zimbabwe.
The main reason for the take over of power was to prevent Mugabe from handing over to his wife, Grace. The close associates of the independence leader including Nangagwa, the leaders of the parliament and and even some of the Army Generals had looked forward to a possibility of succeeding their boss. It follows therefore, that if Mugabe had decided in favour of any one of them, the “military operations” would not have taken place.
The question on the lips of many Zimbabweans and the international community is what future holds for the Southern African country? Analysts fear that there isn’t going to be a clear departure from the Mugabe era as long as the ZANU-PF holds sway. Is the new leader, Nangagwa going to abandon the ZANU-PF ideology? That is a remote possibility as perhaps, the only thing that will change will be the style of the new leadership.
Nnagagwa who returns to power from South Africa, where he has been since he was eased out as Vice President is known acolyte of Zimbabwe.
Before becoming Vice President, Mnangagwa was the country’s Chief of intelligence who stood behind Mugabe to take hard stance on many issues. It is against this background that Analysts believe he wouldn’t be fundamentally different from the ousted leader.
The real issue in Zimbabwean politics in the immediate future would be Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition-Movement for Democratic Change.
Though ill and out of the country for medical attention, Tsvangirai rushed back to the country when news of the “Coup” filtered through the nooks and crannies of the country to watch developments at close range and explore possibilities to access power in the process.
It was against this background that Tsvangirai told the press, he was “baffled” when Mugabe addressed the country last Sunday insisting he would not resign. That was not to be as the Military acted strictly on the advice of ZANU-PF leaders who sacked the President and directed the ZANU-PF controlled parliament to initiate impeachment proceedings.
With Mugabe out of the way, MDC and other opposition elements are likely to become more boisterous in the struggle to access power in the country. This scenario, it is feared might lead to a more divided country where ethnic considerations more than other factors define political loyalties and allegiance.
And with the absence of a strong figure like Mugabe, such bitter struggles could pose major security concerns for the country and might threaten democracy and even the survival of the country all together.
The way out would be for Mnangagwa, the new president to hold a free and fair elections next April and the winner should be allowed to assume power. From the look of things, any hounding of opposition political figures to detention and some cases physical elimination as it happened during the Mugabe years as did Mugabe might meet with fierce resistance from Zimbabweans.
In his letter of resignation to Parliament leader, Jacob Mudenda, Mugabe kind of set an agenda for who would take over from his.
“My decision to resign is voluntary on my part and arises from my concern for the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and my desire to ensure a smooth, peaceful and non-violent transfer of power that underpins national security, peace and stability,” the letter stated in part.
How Mnangagwa leads the country to preserve “peace and stability” in the face of imminent agitation from the opposition groups remains to be seen. The anti-Mugabe rallies in Harare in the wake of the Coup by ordinary Zimbabweans supported by university students who abandoned on-going exams and shut down the universities to join the protests should be an eye opener to Mnangagwa on the resolve of Zimbabweans to press for their collective national aspirations.
For now, “it is still morning on creation day”. But clearly Mnangagwa stands a chance to make history and write his name in gold. How he pilots the affairs of Zimbabwe in the next few months in the post-Mugabe era, will determine his future and indeed the future of Zimbabwe.