Easter holidays have come and gone and the Zimbabwean community celebrated the death and rise of Jesus Christ by trading news about Mugabe’s rumoured ill-health and even his death. Official sources in Mugabe’s office have publicly denied these rumours as a hogwash but Mugabe’s disappearance during the Easter period and the fact that Cabinet meetings have been postponed are keeping these rumours alive. Adding to the mystery was the so-called prophecy of a Nigerian self-claimed prophet, TB Joshua, who apparently foresaw the death of a Southern African President. Well to his credit Bingu Wamtharika, the President of Malawi, died on April 5. As we continue with our Sunset politics in Harare, it’s now clear that we are obsessed with the death of Mugabe and we probably know reasons why. Personally I’ve been thinking about what will happen after Mugabe dies, seeing that Zimbabwean politics revolves around him. His age and ill-health are fast telling us that sooner rather than later the man will die and we should be preparing for a “life without Mugabe”. While we will certainly be out in celebration at news of his death, we need to acknowledge that it will present us with new challenges – ones that could threaten violence if not handled well, and that the country’s problems at hand could be further complicated by the succession struggles in ZANU-PF.
A glimpse of these problems!
Zimbabwe is preparing for elections and the battles between the ZANU-PF, MDCs and other political parties are intensifying. We all know of the reforms needed to make the elections credible and sadly, to date, none of these have a clear solution in sight. All hopes are being put on the SADC mediator Jacob Zuma who in reality can only apply pressure but not force implementation.
The Land issue was left in chaos because rather than returning land to local communities, farms were taken from white farmers and handed to ZANU-PF politicians who had no local history. Worse, some individuals own multiple farms – the very thing we thought was a problem with white land owners. Mugabe seems to have closed the chapter without solutions as evidenced by the government’s complete inaction on the findings of the Buka Land Commission, which concluded that there was massive greediness with senior ZANU-PF officials owning multiple farms.
Corruption is one of the biggest threats to stability in the country and there seems to be no sight of substantial reforms to address it. The rush for natural resources like diamonds is showing us an ugly face of corruption and diamonds are widely known for their contributions to conflict as was seen in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone.
Another program to watch that threatens possible future conflict is the indigenisation program pioneered by Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, where there is no clarity as to how local people are going to benefit from the shares that are being demanded from foreign companies. Also in this process, investment funding is being thrown out the window as investors feel they will be less protected by
government laws which seem to change any time politicians feel like changing them. Massive political interest in business is a major scare, particularly given government failure in running the Parastatals, which calls into question its abilities to handle direct involvement in private business.
Another challenge on the cards is that of political temptations to reject people’s will expressed in the Constitution-making process. One such issue is the devolution of powers to the provincial level, which was raised by people who participated in the process, is facing rejection from ZANU-PF and Mugabe who claim it will divide the people and the country. If people want devolution, why is ZANU-PF interested in overruling people’s wishes?
If he dies, who is next in command?
Above and beyond these issues, the main concern at hand is that of Mugabe’s successor within his own party. I hear rumours that Mugabe has made a deal to pass the reins of power to the current Minister of Defence, Emmerson Mnangagwa. In Malawi, the Constitution provided for the Vice-President to take over and it was honoured. Is Zimbabwe prepared to honour its Constitution or is it the power of the gun that matters as suggested by the Mugabe-Mnangagwa affair? We need to think hard on these issues in our political structures in order to avoid further damage to the country we all love.