Zimbabwe-the end of an era?

21 November 2017 | Columns

Maximalliant T Katjimune

It was at a rally in the agricultural town of Bindura in September 2017 when the water really boiled over. There sitting bemused, was then Vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa as he listened to Grace Mugabe launching a scathing attack on him. The first lady of Zimbabwe didn’t mince words. She accused Mnangagwa of aiding factionalism within the ruling Zanu-PF and further fuelling calls for the end to her husband, Robert Mugabe’s 37 year rule in the land-locked Southern African nation. The attack on Mnangagwa didn’t stop there, the president then after took the podium and launched his own attack on his then Vice-president, accusing him of being in cahoots with a plot to overthrow him in 2004 among other allegations. It was at that rally that the battle lines in the succession race become even more transparent. Two months down the line in November 2017, President Mugabe played his card and fired Emmerson Mnangagwa from the Vice-presidency. The allegation is that Mugabe was clearing the path for his wife’s presidential ambitions. That move has brought massive consequences for Mugabe. It has become evident that President Mugabe played his cards wrong this time around. By firing Mnangagwa in the fashion that he did, Mugabe ignited resistance with his close allies in proportions we have not seen before. The army, after giving a brief warning of taking control of the country without going into much detail moved their tanks into Harare on Tuesday and swiftly took control of the state broadcaster ZBC. This was followed by the arrest of top government officials including the minister of Finance Ignatius Chombo. Kudzai Chipanga, the leader of the Zanu-PF Youth league who had pledged his life for defending Robert Mugabe after the threats from the military was also quickly rounded up and detained. In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, the army general finally made an appearance on the state broadcaster and tried to reassure Africa that it was not a coup but simply an operation ‘’to target criminals around him who are committing crime that are causing social and economic suffering in the country’’. Shortly after that, it emerged that the Mugabe family were under detention, confined to their presidential palace and heavily guarded by the armed forces. The excitement level among the Zimbabwean and indeed African people is evident. Amongst all the speculation and rumours, Zimbabweans could at least cling on to some hope that the nonagerian dictator’s days in power are coming to an end. For many, Robert Mugabe, once seen as an idol of the African mission for self-emancipation, is central to the continued decay of Zimbabwe. The alleged coup represents hope to millions of Zimbabweans who have endured nothing but misery and shame under Robert Mugabe. The fall of Robert Mugabe also puts us one step forward in advancing the democratic narrative in Africa. It is not yet certain whether all this hype will lead to the fall of Mugabe, but for the sake of the Zimbabwean street vendors who have become an object of mockery in foreign countries and the Zimbabwean PhD holders who have been reduced to petty jobs and miserable salaries Mugabe must fall. At this point in time, nothing can be worse for the people of Zimbabwe than the continued rule of Mugabe. President Mugabe’s fall will represent and end to an era that we as Africans must strive not to be attached to. The aftermath of Mugabe’s fall is uncertain, but at least the revolution has started. So I say to my fellow Zimbabwean brothers, to my fellow Zimbabwean students at the University of Namibia and elsewhere, grab this opportunity with both hands. Embrace it, for Zimbabwe belongs to you and your children. A revolution is never easy, but the fruits are priceless. Zimbabwe is yours, Zimbabwe is ours. There is absolutely no place for people like Robert Mugabe in 21st Century Africa. It is my hope by the day this article hits the shelves, Robert Gabriel Mugabe will be no longer anointed with the title of ‘President of Zimbabwe’.

*Maximalliant T Katjimune is NANSO KREC Secretary for Political & Internal Affairs and a 1st year B.A (Hons) (Political Studies & Sociology) student at UNAM

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