IT’S official: Zimbabwe has a new President in the form of Cde Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa. Need repeating, President Mnangagwa takes over from Cde Robert Mugabe who led the country from Independence in 1980, first serving as Prime Minister then President until that historic day, November 21, 2017 when he resigned from office amid buffeting pressure from the ruling party — plus others.
Yesterday marked the culmination of a gripping drama that had the whole world glued to Zimbabwe, highlights of which were the dismissal of then Vice President Mnangagwa from his position in Government on November 6 and the intervention of the military led by Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantino Guveya Chiwenga on the night of November 14 to arrest the rot and counter-revolution that was unfolding in the ruling party that threatened national security.
The army’s intervention — which others want to call a coup — gave the world one of the most popular military intervention anywhere in recent times and the soldier is probably the most popular citizen in the country. They got the handshakes and kisses. They got the hugs and pats on the back.
They got free beer — and God knows what else! They deserve that, don’t they, for such a clinical display of efficiency, discipline and purpose and the world is stunned. In between, people from various walks of life were celebrating the intervention of the army for as variegated reasons.
Others were happy to see Cde Mugabe leave the stage that he dominated for four decades because they just wanted to see change of guard and experience what it feels to have a “former president”. Others were aggrieved by him for his errors of commission and omission.
Still others, for having interests that were shut out by Cde Mugabe’s radical stance and ideology in matters such as the land, independence and sovereignty. Some of us simply celebrated because the prospect of having Mrs Grace Mugabe as the next leader of the republic — which was slowly crystallising after the pacification of party rivals — was anathema.
We just couldn’t take the idea of a Her Excellency Dr Amai, which is what the Professors of the G40 cabal had ordered in a blatant, shameless and unacceptable capture of State.
We have now come to know, as Zanu-PF revealed in the ill winds of impeachment, that the unelected Mrs Mugabe had usurped the power of her husband. Poor Cde Mugabe! We all know that this would not have happened in his better days. Which is probably a good thing that he is having a good rest, finally.
And in his inauguration speech yesterday, President Mnangagwa paid a glowing tribute to the “only surviving founding father” of our nation and his legacy nobody can deny or erode.
The Deng moment
Zimbabwe, following years of decline, can only go up. We cannot sink any lower than we have when the country made history for all the wrong reasons such as a record hyperinflation — around or perhaps over 500 billion percent that hit the country in 2008, decimating our local currency, the Zimbabwe dollar.
It was the highest inflation for a peacetime country.
Well, let’s say a country not at military war, for it is a fact that Zimbabwe was at the mercy of economic warfare waged by powerful western countries.
It is such a surprise the country — and its leader — survived. Again, this historic fact, like the intervention will interest generations to come. Starting on a new slate is a man billed to be in the mould of former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. We must admit that is slowly become cliché.
But there are indications that Zimbabwe’s Mnangagwa will carry massive reforms on the economy and open the country for business, which the Chinese did three decades ago and witnessed rapid growth to become the second largest in the world.
Of course, the conditions are different, but the spirit is the same. Zimbabwe can rise again, and President Mnangagwa knows, not least because he has the weight of expectation. His speech was thick on issues and thin on rhetoric.
There is everything to be hopeful about: jobs, banking sector rebound, foreign direct investment, anti-corruption and so on. Beautifully, he assures us that the land is not going anywhere as reversing the land reform programme would be a betrayal of the ideals of the liberation struggle.
That is about all that people wanted to hear.
Not another GNU
First let us address a rather curious and emotional issue.
In the whole debacle that saw Cde Mugabe being cornered into resigning, there has been a push by the opposition to be part of the story of “removing Mugabe” and duly, opposition members marched with war veterans who called for a solidarity march with the ZDF, typically denouncing Cde Mugabe. We marched, a friend and enemy hand in hand, in Harare, Johannesburg in South Africa, London (Britain), Canberra (Australia, etc.
Only we had different motives: in all of this Zanu-PF said it was self-correcting, but others thought this was a chance to see if the institution of Zanu-PF break down — or break itself down — to make way for an identity-less politics, an utopia without song or slogan.
The opposition wanted a slice of the cake and MDC-T leader recovered quickly and came back — ready to be made Prime Minister by some Gift that keeps giving. We heard stories about the formation of another Government of National Unity that would give the otherwise politically fading characters a new lease of life.
We were made to believe that was the new politics. We were supposed to forget that this whole episode was Zanu-PF — the Zanu of revolution — self-cleansing in a time honoured way. And boy, did Patrick Chinamasa not receive flak for pointing to that self-evident truth!
But, to his great credit, President Mnangagwa is showing a magnanimous and inclusive side as we saw leading figures of the opposition yesterday attending the inauguration of Zimbabwe’s newest leader. Only he does not seem too keen on postponing elections and enter into some strange union again.
And why not derive legitimacy from the people and their votes?
Then Albion came running in
Something is definitely up. Zimbabwe is standing on the threshold of history, and you see it by the way some western countries are tripping each other to come to Zimbabwe.
There are two motivations for this: first, they have just been given a ladder to descend from history; secondly, global dynamics have dramatically changed. We know western countries imposed unjust and illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe over the land reform programme that was heroically championed by Cde Mugabe.
For all the suffering that the sanctions wrought on our people, they were not enough to break us down and separate us from former President Mugabe. The West was taken aback — no other leader in Africa in this century would survive such onslaught.
The west was forced to sulk and wish Cde Mugabe would leave the stage, most probably his Maker calling him. Events of the past few days — which nobody really predicted — provided an unlikely escape route from an unsustainably high horse. And the most important beneficiary of this coup de grace — forgive the pun — is Britain, which precipitated the stand-off in the first place.
And here they sent their boy here, a Rory Stewart, who came three days ago and held meetings with a range of political leaders from various parties, business representatives, human rights groups, NGOs and civil society.
He is looking for some rich pickings, obviously. But in typical arrogance of a once mighty empire he had the guts to tell us that, “Zimbabweans suffered for too long as a result of Mugabe’s ruinous rule. The events of the last few days have given people here real hope that Zimbabwe can be set on a different, more democratic and more prosperous path.”
Bla bla bla.
And: “Britain wants to be a genuine partner for Zimbabweans as they forge a new future.”
More like it!
But it is his boss, UK Premier Theresa May who is more dramatic.
She said: “In recent days, we have seen the desire of the Zimbabwean people for free and fair elections and the opportunity to rebuild the country’s economy under a legitimate government.
“As Zimbabwe’s oldest friend, we will do all we can to support this, working with our international and regional partners to help the country achieve the brighter future it so deserves.”
Zimbabwe’s oldest friend, really?
Something is definitely up, and stinking.
But, of course, outside this hypocrisy of unfashionable former empires, Zimbabwe does need genuine friendships to help us move forward and that should still be on our terms.
We hold the aces now!