This is the future: Zimbabwe’s end game looms for 'besieged Comrade Bob' | Fin24

This is the future: Zimbabwe’s end game looms for 'besieged Comrade Bob'

Aug 03 2016 09:30

For African countries which hit the feature page of The Economist, it’s rarely a pleasant experience. It is usually because of the magazine’s forthright editors highlighting failings surpassing even those of peers in the under-performing continent.

Imploding Zimbabwe has featured regularly over the years as pillaging by President-for-Life Robert Mugabe and his cronies caused economic collapse in the one-time bread basket of Africa.

With Mugabe abandoned even by his erstwhile Chinese friends, Zimbabwe’s regime has been seeking support from the West. There are enough similarities with South Africa to stir concerns – apart from rampant abuse of State resources to fund crony capitalism, Zimbabwe’s ruling party has long been propped up by the unwavering support of its Women’s and Youth leagues.

But there is some light in this week’s editorial focus on Zimbabwe. Mugabe’s unlikely opponent, preacher Evan Mawarire, appears to be achieving something political competitors couldn’t. And the timing of his revolutionary social media campaign couldn’t have been better. Hope Springs. – Alec Hogg

Biznews correspondent

This week’s edition of London’s influential The Economist magazine fires a fresh salvo at Zimbabwe’s 92 year old President-for-Life Robert Mugabe. It appears under the headline “Comrade Bob besieged” followed by the strap line “A fresh round of challenges to Robert Mugabe’s deadly grip on power.”

It highlights the prominent role of Evan Mawarire whose #ThisFlag movement is even being mimicked by newspaper vendors with Zimbabwean flags “draped around their shoulders like superhero capes.” The Economist notes that a Harare court set him free, “Mr Mawarire has found it wiser to stay in neighbouring South Africa”.

The recent strike by thousands of unpaid public servants would also have hevan mawarirurt the regime, but “worse still for Mr Mugabe, self-proclaimed veterans of the liberation ware whom he has long cosseted (and paid to intimidate opponents) have turned against him. Even the army and police have become increasingly sour as their monthly salaries have been paid late.”

Read also: Zimbabwe history being rewritten. A flag for, not against, ordinary citizens.

The turnabout by veterans is sure to have shaken Mugabe’s confidence. The article repeats their criticism of “bankrupt leadership…..we note with concern, shock and dismay the systematic entrenchment of dictatorial tendencies personified by the president and his cohorts, which have slowly devoured the values of the liberation struggle.”

Wilson Nharingo of the rival veterans group is quoted thus: ”It gives people confidence that Mugabe has been ditched by his erstwhile friends. They have been benefitting from the system. But now they’ve been kicked off the gravy train, they’re seeing the light.”

The article also refers to Eldred Masunungure of the Mass Public Opinion Institute in Harare who says recent developments should be giving the regime “sleepless nights”. He adds: “We are reaching a tipping point. But don’t underestimate the capacity of ZANU-PF to recreate itself.”

A key figure is the president’s wife Grace who has warned the unhappy war veterans that their farms, mostly expropriated from whites, could be taken away from them.

But The Economist concludes that even she recognises the risk: “Mrs Mugabe, perhaps wary of the wind blowing in so many directions, has been away a lot in Singapore. The ZANU-PF Women’s League, which she heads, and the party’s Youth League are both deemed doggedly loyal to the president – and presumably to herself.

“After the anti-government protests earlier this month, thousands of youths were bussed into Harare from the countryside to march in support of Mr Mugabe and the ruling party, with loose promises that they would be given plots of land in Harare and in Bulawayo. Mr Mugabe has not yet ceased to astonish his would-be successors with his resilience and cunning.”

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biznews  |  robert mugabe  |  evan mawarire  |  zimbabwe  |  economy


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