ZIMBABWE IN CRISIS
By Teg Singh
On the 15th November 2017, Robert Mugabe, leader of the ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front) was put under house arrest. Four days later, he was ousted by his party and forced to resign or suffer impeachment. With Mugabe’s removal from power all but certain, Zimbabwe is finally able to witness the end of his 37-year iron grip on the country.
Mugabe had been ruling Zimbabwe, first as Prime Minister from 1980 to 1987, then as president from 1987 to his eventual overthrowing in the coup d’état last month. Tensions had been surrounding Zimbabwe since early October, when the two leading figures to replace Mugabe, his second wife Grace and his Vice Pesident Emmerson Mnangagwa became prominent in a public spat, where Grace publicly attacked Mnangagwa and accused him of leading a coup d’état if he did not succeed Mugabe. Thus, on the 6th of November, Mugabe fired his Vice President who fled to Mozambique to avoid threats. However, he had the support of the military, who in turn placed Mugabe under house arrest in order to ‘search for criminals who had wronged Zimbabwe’. Mugabe was asked to resign or be faced with impeachment – which he aggressively declined. However, after being faced with the fact that both his own party, the ZANU-PF, and the MDC-T (Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai) – the two largest parties in government, did not support him –Mugabe resigned on the 21st of November. His resignation led to the Vice President Phelekezela Mphoku to become acting president, until the chief whip promoted Mnangagwa as leader of the ZANU-PF and thus the new President of Zimbabwe.
Mnangagwa gave a speech on the 22nd, stating that it was ‘the beginning of a new unfolding democracy’ and was to serve the remainder of Mugabe’s term in office.
Mugabe’s ruling has been regarded as one of tyranny and dictatorship. He was one of the world’s most controversial politicians, and it has been stated by the Black Scholar journal that ‘Mugabe is either one of the world’s great tyrants or a strong nationalist who has faced the West … depending on who you listen to.’ Within the ZANU-PF, Mugabe was revered as some kind of god – he was most definitely feared and never questioned. Under Mugabe’s rule, the government seized land from the white population – leading a systematic form of racism against the so-called ‘colonialists’. Mugabe’s government was also known for its terrible human rights abuses such as the killing of over a thousand prisoners in a single day and other massacres around the country. Mugabe was also accused of corruption and abuse of power on several occasions.
So where does this leave the country? Many feel that Zimbabwe can finally now move on and flourish without the firm hold that Mugabe had on the country, and look to Mnangagwa for a path forward. However, some believe that the country is already in great turmoil, and it will take years for it to finally escape the problems Mugabe brought upon it.