OUR misfortune is that public opinion on Zimbabwe’s politics is held in a vice-grip, churning out doom and dystopia, and the pliers are greased by a three-group coterie of anti-Mugabeists.
The first we find among our mainly white South African liberals and right-wingers whose core lament is the loss of land productivity coming out of Zanu-PF’s policy of land restitution and redistribution. Often quoting the laboured-to-death “Zimbabwe was the breadbasket of Africa” line, they go on and on about how Mugabe plundered the economy.
Yet a core of their entrepreneurial-adventurers have been filling half the aircraft from Joburg to Harare since the beginning of the crisis in 2008 to bargain and bid and close deals on the country’s mineral resources and other business prospects.
The second group is the vast majority of South Africans who have never set foot in Zimbabwe, yet solemnly hold their exclusively media-formed convictions on the darkness and hunger swallowing our neighbour.
Then there are our professional, middle-class “pro-democracy” Zimbabweans, whining and whingeing behind Mugabe’s back about his authoritarian ways.
Ballooned up in Harare South (Joburg), Harare North (London), and Harare Elsewhere, they are too scared to tell him to his face. Their leaders in actual Harare run to European embassies for shelter when push comes to shove, desperate to go to heaven without dying first.
The point of anguish of all these anti-Mugabeists is the intensifying cross-your-fingers-based wish for a “better” Zimbabwe after Mugabe. Whatever their “better” Zimbabwe may be, it has a retired, incapacitated, or better yet, deceased Mugabe.
A Zimbabwe after Mugabe is Mnangagwa. The newly elected first vice-president and Minister of Justice, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, is most likely going to be the next president.
His appointment as the first vice-president on December 10 last year, following the removal of Joice Mujuru from the post, is widely touted as Mugabe’s presidential succession indication, whenever and however he goes.
Mnangagwa is as politically old as Zanu, having joined the party in 1963. Since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, he has occupied various ministerial posts in national security; justice, legal and parliamentary affairs; finance; foreign affairs; and defence.Advertisement
The aftermath of Mugabe for Zimbabwe’s political fortunes means precisely that: Mugabe gone, but the regime remaining strong and steadfast.
A regime is not the head of a government, but a system of government underlined by a particular prevailing order or system of things serving a particular class or group of people, whose tentacles, formed over generations, are ingrained in society, the economy, judiciary, security, media, family, and in almost everything.
The removal of Mubarak in Egypt, the return of the military to power and the persecution of the Muslim Brotherhood is a clear pointer to the persistent nature of regimes, despite the taking off of the head.
Mnangagwa is part of the Zanu-PF regime, whose core is security, represented by the elite securocrats.
They are in the Ministry of Defence; the Zimbabwe National Army; the Zimbabwe Republic Police; and the Zimbabwe Central Intelligence Organisation. These are the sections that, in the well-documented 2008 election fiasco, blocked Mugabe from stepping down when he expressed his wish to do so, fearing persecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC), after rumours had gone out that some MDC elements had forwarded their names to the ICC for various crimes of political violence.
Their amnesty would not have been guaranteed, and they would have lost their wealth and properties. But what has this regime done so badly that all the hounds have been let out to bay for its blood? It has effected land restitution and land redistribution, a priority of many governments throughout the world. It has insured itself against the exploitation of its wealth and mineral resources by legislating the indigenisation policy, a policy found in many governments throughout the world.
The West has hounded it through the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme to prevent “conflict diamonds” from entering the mainstream market. It is a regime that stood the test of regime change, because it chose to govern itself in accordance to what its African priorities are, and not what the West thinks its African priorities should be.
Zimbabwe produces 25 percent of the world’s diamond reserves – it’s the world’s fourth-largest producer of diamonds. It has over 4 000 recorded deposits of gold, set to grow by $5 billion to $11bn by 2018. The country sits on $11bn of only 65 percent of the geologically mapped mineral resource reserves of mica; zinc; platinum-group metals; lithium; nickel; tin; and other resources.
Hence, all the observations on how undemocratic Zimbabwean elections have been by European countries and other Western institutions not physically present or invited as observers.
After Mugabe, Mnangagwa is likely to continue with many of the country’s present policies. It will continue to safeguard its sovereignty against countermeasures foreign and apparently domestic. It will obviously never be a Zimbabwe that will satisfy our white South African liberals and right-wingers or those doomsayers who have yet to set foot on its soil or our self-exiled middle-class Zimbabweans, unwilling to sacrifice and die for their “better” Zimbabwe.
And so, after Mugabe? Mugabe…
Dr Buntu Siwisa is an independent research consultant on conflict resolution and International Relations, a Rhodes Scholar, and a member of the South African BRICS Academic Forum on Peace and Security.