- Published on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 16:29
- Written by Thandeka Mujati
An uncertain political future in a vision of a Zimbabwe without Mugabe.
President Robert Mugabe was reported as “fighting for his life” earlier this month. The rumour intensified when the President postponed a cabinet meeting. The murmurs were eradicated when he arrived back in Harare looking refreshed from what he called an “Easter holiday in Singapore”. The reports of his failing health left me wondering, what is next for a country that has almost been defined by his President Mugabe’s rule.
Robert Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980. The ululation of liberation turned into cries of despair over the years. Zimbabweans have lived through the disintegration of the “Bread Basket of Africa”. While making idle chit chat in one of the many queues for basic necessities.
There are many talks about who will take over the country when Mugabe passes away and many possible scenarios. Without the staunch, calculating and intelligent ruler that President Mugabe is, a power vacuum will follow. Powerful groups inside and out outside of the country will have reignited interest in the future of Zimbabwe.
One of these primary interests is the vast natural wealth Zimbabwe possesses; which could turn out to be a curse for Zimbabweans more than an intended blessing. Mugabe’s “Look East” policy has led to extensive Chinese investment in the country. The Chinese and other powerful groups will not want their economic interests to be threatened.
There are two main potential successors in the event of President Mugabe’s demise. Legally, the constitution says the Vice President will take over for 90 days. This would be Joyce Mujuru, who is democratically minded. However, if Zimbabwe’s history has taught us anything it’s that the law does not necessarily apply to those in ZANU-PF.
There are reports of infighting within the ZANU-PF party with Emmerson Mnangagwa, the current minister of Minister of Defence. He is rumoured to be next in line for President, he is nick named “the crocodile” for his ruthless reputation and ability to inflict horrific injuries. Which is not what most hope for in a possible president.
It leads me to wonder that maybe the worst is yet to come. The political turmoil Zimbabweans have experienced so far, may pale in comparison to the political turbulence that will occur after President Mugabe. There is no clear ray of hope to lead the country forward.
The youth are a pivotal role in life after President Mugabe. We complain about the situation. Yet most of us have no intention of going back to ease the nation’s transition. Chaos will soon ensue when Mugabe is no longer in power.
A leadership change will not automatically erase all of Zimbabwe’s problems. Many fear a succession crisis, unrest, chaos and possibly violence. The military has the potential to rebel and reinforce their interests which will merely inflame any chaos.
Economically, the situation may improve if the transition is free and fair; The EU and U.S may relieve their extensive sanctions on Zimbabwe. However, immense debt over hangs the country. Political and economic uncertainty will still linger in the post Mugabe era.
Change is long overdue. I am scared for Zimbabwe’s next chapter post Mugabe. But I do believe that it is always darkest before the dawn.