Zimbabwe Minus Mugabe



military needs to be under civilian oversight to ensure the correct administration of power. This is a lesson Ethiopia has learnt the hard way. But it was different for Zimbabweans who were seen celebrating on the streets the downfall of their long-time president, Robert Mugabe, and cheering on the military that decided to take matters into its own hands. There will always be the fear that the fall of one dictator will give rise to another, but the bloodless coup d'etat and the constitutional machinations that were following to remove Mugabe of his post lawfully restore hope in a peaceful transfer of power. In the end, Mugabe gave in - better late than never.


At the time when many African countries struggled to earn their freedom from the shackles of colonisation, they were nonetheless too well aware of politics. After independence, however, colonisers were replaced by dictators, which for the governed could not have made that much of a difference. What the men that are now known as African strongmen preferred to do was to wear the shoes of their previous masters and take advantage of their constituents’ political rights for egoistic ends. In fact, it could be argued that such “freedom fighters” as Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe were crueler than the European colonisers.

They even drafted constitutions for the consumption of external powers as the advantages, however seemingly hypocritical, were evident to them. European powers, who left the countries they ruled without order or democracy, were more than willing to look the other way for the most part as a result of their guilt.

One such person who utilised this historical opportunity, and lost it, was Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe, formerly known as Rhodesia, for 37 years with an iron grip.

Mugabe, at 93 years of age, was one of last week’s hot issues. The president sacked his vice-president, Emerson Mnangagwa, for obscure reasons. On the grapevine, Mugabe just wanted to install the first lady, Grace Mugabe, by removing his most probable successor.

But, for the military, which had stood by for years as Mugabe stole elections, destroyed civil liberties and created an economic crisis, this move was the last straw. Through what was evidently a coup d’etat, the president was kept under house arrest by the military. The act was extraordinary for there was no bloodshed afterwards.

The next time Mugabe made a public appearance, it was during a university graduation ceremony, clad in a blue gown, which many assumed would be his last public appearance. The very next day, thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Harare, the capital city, celebrating  Mugabe’s bad luck and cheering the army. The demonstrations included people from all walks of life. They were young and old, male and female, and black and white, all with the expressed desire of seeing the last of Mugabe.

All are looking forward to a change in their beloved country. A peaceful transfer of power, new policies and initiatives, better international diplomatic relations and, above all, stability for their nation. Some protesters claimed to have walked more than 12Km just to participate in the demonstration, which could have been true given Mugabe’s harsh rule. It is indeed a special day that deserves the long journey – one for the history books. They carried messages like “Mugabe should leave” or “we thank the military army” while some held hands and sung songs draped in the Zimbabwean national flag.

Mugabe, though, turned a deaf ear, just as he has been for almost the past four decades, seeming not to want to let power go as if the country was his property. Of course, this is a feeling Mugabe shares with many leaders in Africa and outside of the continent. There are dozens out there who have clung to power for there is no one to tell them “No”.

Mugabe is said to want to stay in power despite the advice of the nation’s Veterans who want him to leave office in a more dignified and honourable way, which is much more than he deserves. But he would not accept this for he has ambitious plans just as in the past, which had also similarly gone sideways. He had put the Zimbabwean currency in a now famous freefall. He had catastrophically tried to confiscate redeveloped land from white farmers and gave it to the natives.

Grace, the first lady, who is 41 years his junior, wants to succeed him. But the people of Zimbabwe cannot abide by that and have joined hands not to allow that to happen.

Powermongers in many African nations have been observed to toy with redrafting the constitution to make it fit their own ideals, while others indulge in vote rigging to win seats in parliament or get elected to powerful positions.

At any rate, the days of the African strongmen, much like Mugabe, seem to be numbered. And Mugabe was never to finish his current presidential term. Much as he has been deciding on the fates of Zimbabweans for the last 37 years, his fate has been decided by the army, the parliament and his party, which has already sacked him. There are many lessons to learn from this turn of events.

In penning this article, I was hoping that by the time it made it to the publishers, there would be one less dictator in the world. Dreams do come true!



By Girma Feyissa


Published on Nov 26,2017 [ Vol 18 ,No 918]


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