Robert Mugabe’s resignation is an end of an era for the Commonwealth; the last independence activist and decolonial campaigner. Many of these decolonial phases were peaceful, but a few were violent. Of these, Zimbabwe/Rhodesia was doubtless the most violent in the 20th Century.
Mugabe has finally resigned – pushed out by one of his lieutenants who he had tried to push out. Emmerson Mwgagna, guerrilla, part of the infamous “farm grabs” and massacres struck back. Mugabe could not deal with ‘the crocodile’, and his forwards wife fought matters to a head. The army, of which he had long been a part of, sided with him, led with a number of unidentified Chinese APCs of which there is no record of their purchase.
When Mugabe finally resigned, there was understandably mafficking in the streets, that has continued with Mugabe’s inauguration. The UK has responded to his promise of reform by announcing it can renter the CW, but that has so far gone unresponded to.
Many have wondered how a former guerrilla, terrorist and land thief can possibly be a good Pres. They point to his previous actions, his nickname of “The Crocodile”, and the way he pushed Mugabe out of the way when it seemed he would lose the future presidency when Grace Mugabe began to make her final move for the succession.
Although Mnangagwa’s precious actions give no confidence for future better government, this does by no means mean he will be as bad as Mugabe. Despite being part of the “liberation generation”, we can expect improvement over Mugabe: If for no other reason, in the 21st Century new dictators are few and typically must toe the line. Mnangagwa also talks the talk, which means even if he does not walk the walk, he will pretend to do work avoid looking like a hypocrite. He has promised to reform the economy and some expect him to allow political reform, but the latter I find to be somewhat implausible given his previous actions and that this was his second or third coup attempt. He had been Mugabe’s successor, and when Grace Mugabe tried to push him out, it was she and her faction that has since fallen, taking the long-standing Mugabe down with her.
In any event, Zimbabwe will grow and unify if they can look beyond mere race & tribal affiliation. To judge somebody purely on the aspect of their skin colour surely must be the most absurd method possible. It continually leads to distrust and schisms within a nation. We can hope that Mnangagwa will learn from previous mistakes to work together for the better good of all of Zimbabwe, and especially to use his position as president to benefit the whole nation and not just his cronies. Tha has gone on long enough, and Botswana is a prime example of what can be achieved if short-sighted racial & tribal differences are ignored. Botswana, as previous articles here have pointed out, is a successful, pluralistic democracy in the region with a long history of stability.
He will need to reform the person who at best allowed and at worst ordered the massacre of “up to 20,000” Ndebeles, along with the torture of many more as part of the tightening of control that was performed by the still ruling ZANU-PF. He was described by a fellow guerilla as a “very very cruel man” and according to the BBC “masterminded” the political violence against the opposition in 2008.
It is by no means impossible for Mr Mnangagwa to become the leader who takes Zimbabwe into the 21st Century and transforms its culture into a tolerant one. Nelson Mandela was also a terrorist and guerrilla before he was given the Nobel Peace Prize. Indeed, after he effectively blew up a church full of women and children Amnesty International gave up on his case. Yet, without ignoring the worthy goal of ending apartheid, he reformed. For the sake of all Zimbabweans, and also those who call themselves Rhodesians, we can hope for a similar change in Emmerson Mnangagwa.