The Cloudy Dawn of a Post-Mugabe Era in Zimbabwe

The Cloudy Dawn of a Post-Mugabe Era in Zimbabwe


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Residents of Harare, Zimbabwe, near a newsstand on Thursday attesting to the country’s current political turmoil.

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Associated Press

After clinging ferociously to power for 37 years, brutalizing anyone who challenged his despotism as his nation’s economy collapsed, President Robert Mugabe may have finally lost his grip on Zimbabwe over what he did for love, pushing aside a comrade from the liberation struggle to set up his wife as his successor.

Such a tender emotion as love may seem paradoxical for Mr. Mugabe or to his wife, Grace, who is best known for extravagance, corruption and physical assault of people who bother her. But Mr. Mugabe’s decision last week to fire his vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, so Mrs. Mugabe could seek the presidency she clearly coveted appears to have been the final straw for the military, which on Wednesday took control of the country.

While it is unclear what will happen next, Mr. Mnangagwa has reportedly returned to Zimbabwe, Mrs. Mugabe is reportedly in Namibia and Mr. Mugabe is under house arrest. Maj. Gen. S.B. Moyo, the army’s chief of staff, assured Zimbabweans that the military had no desire to run the country, saying, “We expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”

But given the horrific rule of the 93-year-old Mr. Mugabe, the only leader Zimbabwe has had since it gained its independence from Britain in 1980, the last thing Zimbabweans need is more of the brutal repression and economic ruin that was “normalcy” under Mr. Mugabe. Mr. Mnangagwa, a feared former security chief known as “Crocodile,” inspires little hope he would behave less thuggishly.

But the dawn of a post-Mugabe era, no matter how cloudy, could be an opportunity for the African Union, the Southern African Development Community and Zimbabwe’s powerful and more prosperous neighbor, South Africa, to press for real democracy, even helping Zimbabwe’s economy recover from years of mismanagement.



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