A new era in Zimbabwe | Daily News

A new era in Zimbabwe

Television screens worldwide were filled with scenes of jubilant Zimbabweans celebrating the resignation of 94-year-old President Robert Mugabe, the world’s oldest serving leader, on Tuesday after 37 long years in power. His resignation or more accurately, ouster came after the Zimbabwe Army led by General Constantino Chiwenga intervened with “Operation Restore Legacy” to thwart plans to name his second wife Grace Marafu Mugabe as his successor instead of former Vice-President Emmerson “Crocodile” Mnangagwa, who will now become President. Mugabe was also facing impeachment proceedings against him, which will now be nullified.

According to the Constitution his successor should be the current Vice-President, Phelekezela Mphoko, a supporter of Grace Mugabe but this will not go down well with the electorate fed up with the Mugabes. The ruling Zanu-PF party has thus taken the more popular option.

Independent Zimbabwe is still a young country, known as Rhodesia during the colonial period, named after colonial conquistador Cecil Rhodes. Having regained independence in 1979, landlocked Zimbabwe has known no other leader except for Mugabe, who became Prime Minister in 1980 before ascending to the Presidency. The stepping down of Mugabe, who once said “only God” could oust him from power, heralds a new era for Zimbabwe where the economy saw a tumultuous downturn under his reign to the point where its own Zimbabwe Dollar had to be more or less replaced by the US Dollar due to hyperinflation exceeding 231 million percent.

Mugabe polarized opinion domestically and internationally. Some saw him as a hero for ending white domination, while others saw him as a despot and villain who destroyed the social and economic fabric of Zimbabwe. Mugabe, who began his career as a teacher, made his mark as a guerilla fighter in Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence and became popular among Zimbabweans for his stand against colonialism and capitalism after being imprisoned by Rhodesia’s white rulers in 1964. However, he displayed the characteristic traits of many Third World despots after being elevated to the Presidency. His magic finally began to wear off when he began to blame the West for Zimbabwe’s economic troubles and for plotting to oust him.

His takeover of white-owned farms in 2000 saw a surge in his popularity among a segment of the population, but further isolated him internationally. He actually lost the 2008 election to Morgan Tsvangirai, but unleashed violence on the latter’s supporters to maintain his grip on power. In order to save the lives of his supporters, Tsvangirai pulled out of the second round and although Mugabe was then forced to share power with his rival for four years, he remained President. Mugabe did not hesitate to use all the levers of state - the security forces, civil service and the state-owned media to further his own ends.

His one major achievement – the expansion of the education system saw literacy rates climb up to 90 percent, but ironically, this turned the tide against him as young, educated Zimbabweans saw through the web of deceit and corruption. Although once hailed as a “king” by some of his closest associates, the majority of Zimbabweans were aghast at the idea of a “one-family” rule. Hence the relief and jubilation on the streets of Harare and elsewhere.

The focus is now on the future of Zimbabwe after Mugabe’s divisive legacy. It will not be easy to dismantle the structures and systems that have been deeply ingrained in Zimbabwe’s political landscape for nearly 40 years and Mnangagwa himself has been part of that system. In essence, there should be a drastic change in the country’s political culture.

The new President as well as Opposition Leader Tsvangirai will have to work together to charter a new course for Zimbabwe, which will necessarily have to include free and fair elections. The Army has also shown that it will not stand idly in a critical situation and they will have to take that factor as well into account. South Africa, the giant neighbour to the South, has generally been supportive of Zimbabwe and the new leaders should strive to improve ties with the African Union as well as with the rest of the world.

There is unlikely to be any real change in the relationship between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe as a result of the new political developments in Harare. These ties were always excellent and cordial and most Sri Lankans still see Zimbabwe in terms of cricket, which is a passion the peoples of both countries share. We must remember that there was a time when both Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe were thought of as minnows in world cricket. When the established leading Test countries were reluctant to grant tours for Sri Lanka, it was Zimbabwe that came to our rescue apart from India and Pakistan. After Sri Lanka’s World Cup victory, Zimbabwe too has now come of age in cricket, having recorded an ODI series victory over Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka itself earlier this year. There is great scope for improving trade and tourism links between the two nations which both seek peace, development and reconciliation. 


 

There is 1 Comment

Country's should have age and time frame for leaders to remain in power age under 70 and two terms maximum. Prevent greed corruption allow young smart people take powers,lis stamina memory ambition all fade after certain age

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