Wednesday, 22 November 2017

How Zimbabwe Freed Itself of Robert Mugabe

Thirty-seven years after he brought independence to the last outpost of the British Empire in Africa, Robert Gabriel Mugabe’s Zimbabwe is no more. 

Mugabe’s resignation, announced in Harare on Tuesday, ushers in a new era for his country, and his continent. At ninety-three, Mugabe was the last of Africa’s generation of modern founding Presidents. His resignation came after a tumultuous eight days in which the Zimbabwean Army intervened in the political process for the first time in the country’s history, thousands of Zimbabweans marched and danced in delirium in the streets, and Mugabe addressed the nation to resign, only to pull back in a final act of spectacular brinkmanship, before resigning when Parliament threatened him with the ignominy of impeachment.

For the many Zimbabweans under the age of thirty-seven, the end of the brutal Mugabe era is a vista-shifting, imagination-opening opportunity. More cautious voices from civil society and opposition parties caution against both euphoria and complacency: Mugabe, they warn, may be gone, but his zanu-P.F. party, so closely associated with both his failures and cruel excesses, remains in power.
How Zimbabwe Freed Itself of Robert Mugabe
Zimbabweans will forever associate the Mugabe years with the authoritarian repression that saw those who threatened the President’s power either killed, jailed and beaten, intimidated with treason charges that carried the death penalty, or, if they were fortunate, silenced and co-opted through patronage. His final years have all but obliterated the glorious promise of the period soon after Zimbabwe gained independence, in 1980.&
A vibrant economy collapsed, as his obsession with threats to his rule from within his own party paralyzed government. Rising levels of poverty went hand in hand with corruption and cronyism, meaning that, just as in the classic abuser-victim cycle, the same government that had destroyed livelihoods masqueraded as the benevolent provider of everything from food to tractors, and in return demanded that the recipients give the President their votes.





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