Nov 27th, 2017, 10:05 PM

The End of the Mugabe Legacy

By Giacomo Massimo Brancaccio
Former President Robert Mugabe and his second wife Grace Mugabe. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/DandjkRoberts
Zimbabwe: "A new and unfolding democracy"?

Tensions in Harare burst last summer, Zimbabwean leaders could not have imagined between a Piña colada and a swim in the waters of South Africa, that the little quarrels produced under the sun (possibly aggravated by the heat) were going to change the country forever (at least, the “Lider Maximo”). The advent of the hostilities started with the typical political back and forth between Grace Mugabe, second and current wife of the undisputed sovereign Robert Mugabe, and the right-hand man of the latter, the former Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa or otherwise known as the “Crocodile." Mnangagwa accused the First Lady several times of being at the head of the conspiracy against him, when in fact, in August, he was poisoned. Rumor has it that ice cream from Mrs. Mugabe's dairy firm was to blame for the poisoning. 

Although there have been attempts to silence the crisis between the two factions, the plot’s issue has fractured the majoritarian political party Zanu-PF (the Zimbabwean African National Union-Patriotic Front) even more. For the first time in nearly four decades, an internal rivalry proved dangerous to the Zanu-PF. The Crocodile, who is a former combatant in the Zimbabwean independence war during the 1960s and 1970s, took advantage of his support by generals in the army who fought alongside him.  


Current President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/Voice of America

November 19, the Zanu-PF dismissed Robert Mugabe as their leader, but due to the reluctance of Mugabe to step down, the Zimbabwean Parliament announced impeachment proceedings. The leader of the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change read from the impeachment motion: "We have seen the president sleeping in Cabinet and international meetings to the horror, shame, and consternation of Zimbabweans."  Nevertheless, the announcement of the impeachment became halted by a statement of the Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda, declaring the resignation of Mugabe (video below), meanwhile the Zanu–PF chief whip duly nominated the Crocodile, answering to newspapers that he would take over as President within 48 hours.

Does the era of tyrants in Zimbabwe end with Mugabe? Mnangagwa landed in Zimbabwe following an exile in South Africa the day after the resignation and gave a speech to the public outside of the Zanu-PF headquarters, “The people have spoken. The voice of the people is the voice of God. Today we are witnessing the beginning of a new and unfolding democracy." Acutely arduous to deduce if this will effectively be a new era for the African nation because after all, the Crocodile was a comrade of Mugabe during the independence war.