Democracy Rising

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable" ~ President John F. Kennedy

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Is 2006 Mugabe’s Last Year?

Originally posted at Publius Pundit

There was once a time when I predicted roughly when Mugabe’s regime might collapse. During the Presidential election of 2002? Maybe in the MDC’s final push? Perhaps he would just die of a heart attack? So far Mugabe has proved myself, and most probably every Zimbabwe watcher wrong. Yet could 2006 be Mugabe’s last year in office?

The succession within Zanu-Pf began in late 2004.

At the party congress, much-hated information minister Jonathan Moyo attempted to boost his own position, by calling for a parliamentary speaker to be elevated to a vacant Vice-Presidential position. When Mugabe, a man with his own plans, caught wind of this, Moyo quickly found himself without a job and out of favour. Some had thought Moyo was positioning himself to take over as President. The former professor had been an advocate of Democracy in the past - maybe another u-turn as Head of State could smash the Zanu-Pf grip on power. This was never likely, Moyo was, and still is hated for his change from Democrat to Dictators lap-dog.

Rather than promoting a member of his own clique, Mugabe elevated a surprise candidate, Joyce Mujuru, to the state’s second most powerful position. Mujuru, a liberation fighter who failed to complete secondary education, appeared to be at first a weak character - someone who would pose no threat to a man seemingly hell-bent on ruling until he died. Yet Mujuru has become a comforting voice for some. Rather than continuing the anti-Blair rhetoric, Mujuru seems to favour loosening the tightly controlled state and winning back western backers. Perhaps not a move to Democracy, but in this desperate state of play most Zimbabweans only seek jobs, food and sanitation.

Whilst Mujuru may be the future for Zanu-Pf, and her standpoint appears to show that many feel Mugabe is the roadblock to reform, the opposition MDC also seeks a strong role in Zimbabwean politics. Despite internal fighting that has seen a split between two factions (those favouring participating in elections and those against) the party appears to be the only viable alternative to ZAnu-Pf’s rule.

The long-term leader Morgan Tsvangirai has recently called for Civil Disobedience, but other than demonstrations, what disobedience can there be in a society with 80% unemployment and a civil service in Mugabe’s pocket? As the current crisis shows, Mugabe doesn’t believe his countries total collapse should be an obstacle to furthering his rule. Furthermore protests are only likely to be harshly repressed, as was seen in the ‘Final Push’. Zimbabwe is a police state with lower tolerance than China or Vietnam.

In addition just how many people will come out for an MDC that has let them down so many times before? Tsvangirai has consistently shown himself to be a weak leader, unable to lead troops in to battle, unsure after the last rigged elections exactly what to do.

Mugabe survives due to support from South Africa and the military. If one of these turned against him, the regime would collapse almost overnight. However with Thabo Mbeki in office until 2009, and his likely successor claiming lessons could be learnt from Zimbabwe’s land clearances, expect no abandonment from Johannesburg. Furthermore, the army still appears to be more concerned with fighting colonial ghosts and protecting the liberation victory Zanu-Pf achieved, than pulling the country out of its crisis.

As crisis after crisis mount, Mugabe remains strong. Most Zimbabweans appear to have given up, a symptom of a long-suffering cancer victim, tired of struggle, just allowing the tide to sweep them along. Will this be Mugabe’s last year in office? There doesn’t appear to be much hope for that - the President claims he will continue in office until the end of his term in 2008. But what there is hope for is a brighter future for Zimbabwe, people who see the errors of the past cannot be repeated. Besides, life after Mugabe can’t be any worse.

23 March 2006


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