Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said Saturday that he will proclaim the 2018 election date at the end of May.
Addressing a rally in Mutare, Manicaland province marking the start of the ruling ZANU-PF election campaign, the president said the party will intensify its campaigning once the election date is proclaimed.
According to the country's constitution, the elections must be held between July 21 and August 21. Zimbabwe's parliament last week passed the Electoral Amendment Bill which now awaits presidential assent to become law.
The bill seeks to give legal effect to the bio-metric voter registration system that was done by the national electoral body for the first time. As political parties gear up for the polls, ZANU-PF has finished selecting its candidates while the main opposition party the MDC Alliance is still to conclude candidate selection.
President Mnangagwa, who took over from former president Robert Mugabe in November last year, will fight it out with the youthful leader of MDC Alliance Nelson Chamisa in the presidential poll. As the nation edges towards the polls, voters' roll inspection opened on May 19 and will run until May 29.
About 5.4 million people in Zimbabwe are registered to vote in the elections.
President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, who has positioned himself as a pro-business president since his November 2018 inauguration, has indicated that his ascension has coincided with an increase in investor interest in Zimbabwe.
On February 8, 2018, the Herald newspaper quoted Mnangagwa saying: “We have secured more than $3bn in foreign direct investment in just seven weeks. We want this country to move forward. We want jobs for our children. For a start, we are addressing the production levels of agriculture where we are modernising all forms of production. We will move into modernising the processing chain.”
Addressing a church gathering in Shamva on April 25, 2018, Mnangagwa announced that investment commitments to Zimbabwe had increased to $11 billion. The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) quoted the president, who is routinely referred as “ED” by the local media, as saying: “For the past four months, we have been discussing and realised that investment commitments have passed $11 billion as companies are angling themselves for mutual benefit.”
The International Monetary Fund’s Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual (BPM6) defines foreign direct investment as international investment by an entity resident in one economy in an enterprise resident in another economy that is made with the objective of obtaining a lasting interest.
The lasting interest implies the existence of a long-term relationship between the direct investor and the enterprise and a significant degree of influence on the management of the enterprise. Direct investment involves both the initial transaction that establishes the relationship between the two entities and all subsequent capital transactions between them and among affiliated enterprises, both incorporated and unincorporated.
According to the IMF, a direct investment enterprise is an incorporated or unincorporated enterprise in which a direct investor that is resident of another economy has 10 percent or more of the ordinary shares or voting power (for an incorporated enterprise) or the equivalent (for an unincorporated enterprise).
The direct investor may be an individual, an incorporated or unincorporated private or public enterprise, a government, or an associated group of individuals or enterprises that has a direct investment enterprise in an economy other than that in which the direct investor resides. The ownership of 10 percent of ordinary shares or voting power is the criterion for determining the existence of a direct investment relationship.
Investment approvals versus commitments
The Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA), the state agency responsible for overseeing and licencing foreign investment into the country, routinely provides information on the value of projects it would have approved. However, ZIA does not provide data on actual investment, within the boundaries of the IMF definition of FDI.
Nevertheless, ZIA’s statistics of projects licenced in the first quarter of 2017 show a wide gap between commitments claimed by Mnangagwa and approved FDI investments. ZIA chief executive Richard Mbaiwa told journalists at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair that the agency had licenced projects worth about $950 in the first quarter of 2018.
The Herald quotes Mbaiwa saying: “The enquiries that have come to ZIA have increased very significantly. If I look at the first quarter of 2018, comparing to the first quarter of 2017, you see a very significant increase.
“In terms of projects that we have actually licensed, not those that made commitments such as the $4,2 billion by Karo Resources and others and not licensed by ZIA, I am not including those; I mean the ones ZIA has actually licensed, for the first quarter we are standing at just below a billion dollars.
“The figure (for licensed projects) is about $950 million. In the first quarter of 2017 we were at about $150 million. So, you can see the difference, the jump. Normally, the first quarter is the slowest, especially in the previous years. When we had $150 million in the first quarter, by end of the year the figure would have gone up to between $1,5 billion and $2 billion,” he said.
“So we think that this year, with the first quarter just shy of a billion dollars, we are quite positive that by end of the first quarter maybe we would have already surpassed last year’s total figure ($1,2 billion project approvals for whole of 2017).
Expected Direct Investment (EDI) versus actual FDI
Mnangagwa’s presidency has indeed seen a notable increase in foreign investor interest, as shown by several high-profile visits by investors, who include the chief executive of multi-billion dollar British development financier Commonwealth Development Corporation, Nick O’Donohoe, mineral fertilizer mogul Dmtry Mazepin, rated the 61st richest Russian by Forbes in 2015, Sergey Ivanov Jr, the chief executive of the world’s number two diamond miner Alrosa and mining entrepreneur Loucas Pourolis, chairman of the London and Johannesburg-listed Tharisa plc. Pouroulis signed a $4,2 billion deal with the government, to develop a platinum mine and refinery in the country.
In February, a high-level delegation from US multinational conglomerate General Electric visited the country and expressed interest in the 2 400 megawatt Batoka hydropower project, which is estimated to cost $4 billion.
During his April state visit to China, Mnangagwa also met Xiang Guangda, with the president’s aides announcing that Xiang’s Tsingshang Holdings – which lays claim to being China’s second biggest stainless steel manufacturer – was interested in setting up a $4 billion steel plant in Zimbabwe.
Xiang already has interests in Zimbabwe through ferrochrome firm Afrochine Smelting, which was set up in 2012. In 2013, the Chinese firm was reported to be planning to invest in a power plant that would generate as much as 1 000 megawatts to supply its Selous plant, with the surplus power being fed into the national grid. Five years on, it remains unclear if Afrochine is still pursuing the power project.
In an article he wrote for the Sunday Mail, presidential spokesman George Charamba suggested Xiang’s power plant ambitions had been frustrated by the previous administration: “But he (Xiang) has been knocking on Government offices for the past three years, to no avail. Still, he didn’t give up on us.
“In that 30-minute meeting (with Mnangagwa), the investor was able to walk away with concrete commitments on all his requirements, opening the way for an early start to the project.”
Another Chinese billionaire Zhang Li, who is considering investing over $1 billion in the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company, also returned, having first come to Zimbabwe in October, 2017, when he was hosted by former President Robert Mugabe.
ZIA statistics of licenced projects, juxtaposed with data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), reveal a significant variance between FDI approvals and actual investment. The UNCTAD publishes an annual report on global investment, which provides details of FDI trends at the national, regional and global level. The UNCTAD’s World Investment Report is a widely used resource for FDI data.
While ZIA has approved projects worth an average $1 billion annually over the past few years, Zimbabwe’s FDI has averaged $400 million since 2013.
While ZIA data shows an increase in investor interest in Zimbabwe, with $950 million worth of approved projects comparing favourably with the annual average value of approvals in previous years, there is no evidence to back up Mnangagwa’s February claim, made at a Guruve rally, that the country secured more than US$3 billion in FDI in seven weeks as reported by The Herald.
In subsequent pronouncements, Mnangagwa appears to be cautious as he talks about FDI commitments, not secured investment. As the ZIA and UNCTAD statistics show, approved projects and actual FDI investments vary significantly. As such, commitments to invest demonstrate interest but do not paint the whole picture. - Zimfact
- The Source
The African Development Bank is leading talks with Zimbabwe and its creditors to make plans for the nation to pay off some of its arrears so it can restore relations with lenders, said Akinwumi Adesina, the bank’s president.
During almost two decades of economic mismanagement the southern African nation’s debt surged to more than 70 percent of gross domestic product and the economy has halved in size since 2000, according to the government.
“We’re talking with the government and were looking for a way we can all have a common agreement and hopefully reach a mutually acceptable timeline for an arrears clearance,” Adesina said in an interview on Monday in Johannesburg. “The AfDB is spearheading that conversation with all the creditors.”
While Zimbabwe has paid $110 million of arrears to the International Monetary Fund, it’s still saddled with $1.7 billion of arrears to the AfDB and World Bank. The Finance Ministry forecast total debt of $14.5 billion in the 2018 budget.
It needs to clear the arrears so it can once again seek foreign assistance from lenders such as the IMF.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa took power in November when Robert Mugabe resigned as the nation’s leader after the military temporarily took control and effectively ended his 37-year reign. He has pledged to revive the economy and sell bonds to finance infrastructure development.
“With the new government it creates a new opportunity to support the country to unlock its potential and to stabilize,” Adesina said. A new Zimbabwe is great for “political stability and regional trade in the Southern African Development Community area.”
The nation abandoned its own currency in 2009 as runaway inflation rendered it worthless, opting instead for a basket of currencies that includes the dollar, South Africa’s rand, the pound and Botswana’s pula.
Zimbabwe’s brand architecture after the downfall of Mugabe through the ‘soft’ coup of 15 November 2017 is hard to define.
The replacement of Robert Mugabe after the seizure by the military and his erstwhile Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, contributed to the weakening of an already fragile brand.
Enduring, albeit National Brands are naturally a representation of order strengthened by the consolidation of democratic ethos and values. This explains why the new president is struggling to take brand Zimbabwe on a new and acceptable trajectory.
Zimbabwe, post-Mugabe is facing an existential crisis of creating a brand promise and accompanying experience. This is because the leaders assumed office through force and power seizure rather than through constitutional means. The result of which is supposed to create a social contract, as both the promise by leadership and the ‘experience’ citizens and national stakeholders are supposed to enjoy.
If managed well, the impending 2018 general election is supposed to deal with this dilemma. However, it has become common knowledge that foreign powers like Britain and the European Union seem keen use the electoral process to launder the coup. This will only serve to delay the resolution of the brand crisis of legitimacy and credibility.
It is for the benefit of Brand Zimbabwe if the internal stakeholders engage extensively and build consensus on the electoral conditions that will lead to the plebiscite so that there won’t be any dispute on the outcome. Yet, the prevailing situation is that of an incumbent bent on pleasing outside forces rather than complementing internal stakeholders in building an enduring brand.
We need to examine three major national branding indicators in order assess where Brand Zimbabwe stands after Mugabe’s rule.
Defining the Big Idea
After Mugabe, the new regime seems to be struggling to define a ‘big idea’ that unites the people of Zimbabwe. This has seen the new leaders running around the globe, like proverbial headless chickens, riding on a rather hollow concept: ‘Zimbabwe is open for Business.’ This is a very weak idea, for lack of better phraseology.
It does not mean anything to internal stakeholders. It creates the impression that Zimbabwe is up for sale for pittance. The challenge for the new leadership that emerges from an democratic election which is not disputed would be to craft a big idea that would anchor Brand Zimbabwe. This big idea should become the shining light that will guide citizens in moving the country forward.
United States’ 44th president Barack Obama’s administration was anchored on inspiring its citizens on the promise that the USA could rebuild and reclaim its global leadership through the, “Yes We Can” and “Forward” campaigns. These big ideas served to motivate the citizens to buy into his vision to rebuild America after the debilitating global financial crisis on 2008.
Constant Messaging and Visual Style
Enduring brands are anchored on a constant set of positive messages. The new administration entered office on the promise of a ‘New Dawn! New Era’! This is an ambitiously bold statement which should be made when internal stakeholders are prepared to meet the brand promise.
With more than the definitive 100 days in office having elapsed, a new era is yet to see its dawn! The more things change the more they remain the same. This serves to expose the dysfunctional nature of the team in office. A team that is failing to meet the brand promise for lack of a big idea that will meet the citizens and stakeholders expectations.
Effective use of multiple media platforms
Zimbabwe has a very rich arts, culture, and sports heritage which lies largely untapped because of poor administration. We are home to the likes of World Karate champion Saiko Sensei Samson Muripo; heavyweight boxer, Charles Manyuchi, paralympian Elliot Mujaji; Olympic champion swimmer, Kirsty Coventry along with globally acclaimed musicians and artists who can be effective Brand Zimbabwe ambassadors.
This works if the brand is well managed and is free from the high reputational risk with which it is currently associated with Brand Zimbabwe. When the Big Idea is well defined, the messaging structured, then our media across all platforms can easily carry the message to a global audience.
In many of the instances, countries are focussed mainly on creating an ‘image’ rather than designing and offering a national brand experience. They end up failing to rally the citizens and external stakeholders around a single brand idea.
Countries must be alive to the following experiences that they should subject their citizens and stakeholders to:
Random experiences: Zimbabwe is in the category that delivers sporadic experiences. The citizens are never sure at any given time of what kind of experience to expect when they engage various departments and agencies. Surprisingly the country focuses on tasks and delivery of services, without considering the citizens’ perspective in measuring their impact.
Therefore, you find plenty of ‘very busy people’ but of little impact in delivering value. That’s why the president is all over the map telling whoever cares to listen that ‘we are open for business’, yet few believe him.
At one end the president is preaching free and fair elections, at the other, the military component in the ruling party commissariat are threatening to unleash violence. On one hand the country is pushing the dawn of a new era mantra, and yet on the other, it unleashes soldiers to kick out informal business from the CBD, tear gassing students peacefully petitioning the government to honor fundamental education rights at institutions of higher learning.
Differentiated experience: This is the ultimate approach towards delivering an exceptional citizen centric experience. The countries in this category are few.
Zimbabwe under Emmerson Mnangagwa is a brand without shape and form, mainly because of the means with which the administration usurped power, a military coup. This makes it difficult for it to build consensus through building a brand that appeals to the hearts and minds of a people.
Brand Zimbabwe is without a Big Idea, where citizens endure random experiences.
( The Source)
The headline on the Zimbabwe Herald could not have made it clearer: “Police tighten noose on Grace Mugabe.”
The newspaper, for 37 years the mouthpiece of Robert Mugabe’s government, is now the voice of the new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa. He replaced Mugabe when the long-time leader was deposed in late 2017. Over the last couple of months the Herald and a number of other Zimbabwean media outlets have published detailed accounts on police investigations into former first lady Grace Mugabe’s suspected role in ivory smuggling.
The first of these stories, less than two months after Mnangagwa took office, said the former first lady was being investigated for “illicit and illegal activities”. Information said to have come from the very top of Mnangagwa’s government implicated the former first lady in an organised crime ring “responsible for the poisoning of hundreds of jumbos in the country”. She was also accused of illicitly obtaining ivory from legal government stocks and either illegally selling it or exporting it as gifts for high profile foreign allies.
Zimbabwe is one of the key elephant range states and home to Africa’s second largest estimated elephant population of nearly 83,000 individuals, following Botswana. Though there are high elephant numbers, alarms have been raised over poaching in the country including the use of cyanide poison to kill large numbers of them. The first reported case of this was in 2013 when a single massacre of over 100 elephants happened at Hwange National Park. Since then it has become a common means of poaching throughout the country’s protected areas.
As more and more evidence has been leaked to the press, the government’s intention to prosecute her for ivory and rhino horn smuggling has become clear. If she has been involved in illegal wildlife trading and has links to poaching, then she should be prosecuted and, if found guilty, punished. But this is also all incredibly useful for the new president who stands to benefit politically from these investigations.
Mnangagwa needs to embed himself in power as presidential and parliamentary elections are due to be held later this year. For this, he needs to ensure the unity of ZANU-PF – Zimbabwe’s ruling party since independence – and root out any pockets of pro-Grace supporters.
Grace Mugabe was his major rival to succeed President Mugabe and acted with her husband’s support to sack Mnangagwa as Vice-President in 2017. This led to a military backed coup which forced the Mugabes to step down and saw Mnangagwa elected leader by ZANU-PF.
Though Grace Mugabe lacks the party’s majority support, she does have backing from a group of younger ministers and party officials known as Generation 40. If she is found guilty of these crimes, she could end up in prison and so politically neutralised. Also, by pursuing her on ivory and rhino horn smuggling charges, Mnangagwa averts accusations of political vindictiveness.
The move to pursue Grace Mugabe also wins the new leader international favour. Far from being criticised for oppressing political opponents, Mnangagwa would be praised for making a stand in the protection of elephants and rhinos – which, today, has huge global concern. Between 2007 and 2014, the African elephant population declined by 144,000 animals.
The government may also be attempting to put a lid on past accusations against Mnangagwa, who was said to be the godfather of rhino horn smuggling operations. Partly through his role as Mugabe’s director of intelligence, he was accused of being involved with supplying horns to Chinese buyers nearly a decade ago. But before any judicial hearings or convictions, the police docket, in the hands of then Attorney General Johannes Tomana, disappeared.
Within a month of coming into power, the stress on conservation became part of the new government’s narrative, creating a discourse which places Mnangagwa as a conservation stalwart and Grace Mugabe as a corrupt ivory smuggler.
Now, there are clear signals that the government is amassing evidence to make a stand against poaching and prosecute Grace Mugabe. Mnangagwa’s special advisor, Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa, summed up the case:
We received a report from a whistleblower…Police and the whistleblowers laid a trap for suppliers believed to be working for Grace Mugabe. The culprits were caught and that is how the investigations started. When we were confronted with so much evidence, there was no way we could ignore; we had to act.
If the allegations are true, then her actions are against CITES trade regulations, which bans the international trade in ivory. Zimbabwean law also outlaws poaching and the trade in ivory from poached elephants. It is also illegal, without a certified permit that meets CITES conditions, to remove ivory from the legal government stockpile for export and sale.
This is the first legal action against the Mugabe dynasty since Mnangagwa was elected president and appeared to allow the Mugabes a graceful exit. It could become a major political victory for the new Zimbabwean president, sanctioned by law and bolstering his international reputation.
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday said nearly $600 million in illegally externalised funds has been returned into the country under a 90-day amnesty and named corporates and individuals that have yet to repay over $800 million in a list dominated by diamond miners.
Mnangagwa’s amnesty expired last month but only $591 million out of an estimated $1,4 billion in funds illegally stashed abroad was returned, he said in a statement, adding that those that did not comply could face prosecution.
The published list showed 1,884 individuals and companies, and firms in the mining, agriculture, manufacturing sectors and cross border freight businesses had the highest amounts spirited abroad.
The struggling African Associated Mines allegedly externalised $62 million while diamond miners, Marange Resources (54,2 million), Canadile Miners ($31,3 million), Mbada ($14,7 million) and Jinan ($11 million) are on the list. Government was a 50 percent shareholder in all the diamond miners, which operated in the Chiadzwa diamond fields.
Marange, Mbada and Jinan were among the seven miners shut down in February 2016 for resisting nationalisation while Canadile, a joint venture between Lovemore Kurotwi’s Core Mining and the stateowned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation suspended operation in 2010.
Operations at Shabanie and Gaths asbestos mines ground to a halt in 2008, three years after the government seized them from Mutumwa Mawere, under a controversial law that allows the state to take over assets of businesses deemed to be insolvent and incapable of servicing loans and charges owed to state institutions and agencies. The mines were subsequently placed under Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).
It is not clear from the list when the funds were externalised.
The funds were for export earnings that were kept offshore, payment of imports that never made it into the country and funds stashed in foreign banks.
- The Source
Zimbabwe will hold fresh elections at the end of July this year, a sign that, following decades of rule under autocratic leader Robert Mugabe, the southern African nation is on the path towards democracy.
But are the country’s young people ready to get involved in politics?
The signs elsewhere on the continent aren’t hopeful. Given Africa’s youth bulge, in which 39.5% of the continent’s population is aged between 18 and 45, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect the majority of voters would be young people. But this is not the case.
For the most part, young people are apathetic when it comes to elections. While they’re the most affected by democratic processes, they appear to be the least interested in them. For example in Nigeria’s 2011 polls, only 52.6% of young people voted while in South Africa’s 2014 national elections, apathy was the reason for a registration level of just 33% for 18 and 19 year olds.
This phenomenon isn’t unique to Africa. Across the world young voters are failing to turn up at the polls. Levels of youth participation are very low in the UK and Ireland and most of the southern European states like Italy, Greece and Portugal.
In my recent study, I set out to explore the level of youth participation (as candidates, voters and activists) in Zimbabwe’s elections and governance processes, what restricts their participation and what can be done to support them. I defined youth as people aged between 15 and 35.
My evidence showed that their participation is low, hampered by restrictive political parties and a lack of three things – interest, information and funds.
To change this, there needs to be an effort to create political, structural and physical spaces that allow for their meaningful participation. This could, for example, include allocating quotas to young people and prioritising youth empowerment. South Africa’s two main opposition parties have done this well – young people lead the Democratic Alliance as well as the Economic Freedom Fighters.
A third of the young people I interviewed said that they hadn’t taken part in activities such as rallies, council meetings and meetings within communities. A quarter of them said they didn’t participate often while only a fifth said they did so extremely often.
Political parties were cited as the main reason (67%) that prevented meaningful youth participation. For example, only 17% believed that political parties were creating spaces and making an effort to level the playing field so that they could participate in elections.
This exclusion is driven by what the scholar and expert on young people, Barry Checkoway, calls ‘adultism’ – when adults take a position that they are better than young people and prescribe solutions for them. Young people are seen as potentially dangerous elements that should be kept away from key decision-making processes.
On top of this, poverty makes young people particularly vulnerable to being excluded. About 70% of young people in Zimbabwe are unemployed. And those that work experience extreme poverty, earning less than US$2 per capita per day. This renders them susceptible to exploitation and control – young people who are poor are ready to sell their rights, for food hand-outs and promises of jobs that never materialise.
But it’s not just about the adults. Young people are also to blame for low participation.
In the interviews they showed a lack of interest in a system they felt they couldn’t change. They share this apathy with many other Zimbabweans. The legitimacy of the country’s elections since independence has always been a thorny issue. The opposition has regularly raised accusations of vote-buying, electoral fraud, vote rigging, as well as the intimidation of voters by the ruling party - Zanu-PF. This has led many to question the legitimacy of the electoral process.
Other barriers to young people include a lack of financial resources, lack of capacity, lack of information and the absence of a culture of positive engagement. Most believed that young people were prepared to run for office in the 2018 elections. But nearly half indicated that young people needed more support, such as leadership training, in preparation for running for office.
When asked what the top five solutions to improving the participation of young people were the answers included:
freedom to participate in politics and development without restrictions (71%),
provision of leadership training (54%),
youth awareness campaigns (42%),
pro-youth policies (40%), and
effective engagement in productive activities (38%).
Young people should be viewed as a vital source of information which justifies the need for adults to give them space and opportunities to engage meaningfully. This could be done through local campaigns, like the United Nations’ ‘Not Too Young to Run’ campaign. This promotes the right for young people to run for office, creates awareness and mobilises them.
Young people also need to be equipped to participate in politics. This includes getting support through leadership training and training in elections and governance processes. Finally, resources and support must be given to youth-led initiatives that are reaching out to young people.
Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been cautiously welcomed with the hope that he will place Zimbabwe on a more democratic trajectory. He has spoken of a new democracy “unfolding” in Zimbabwe.
But this is wishful thinking.
There are three major barriers to a decisive break from the corrupt and dysfunctional political system that has been playing out in Zimbabwe: the ruling Zanu-PF, its president and what’s been their main sustainer – the military.
None would want to oversee real change because facilitating democratic rule with real contestation for power would mean running the risk of electoral defeat. This would endanger the networks of self enrichment that have been put in place over decades.
Instead, the next few months will see Zanu-PF, Mnangagwa and the military continue to block democracy as they seek to hold onto the power.
The nature of Zanu-PF
Zanu-PF presents a formidable obstacle to democratic progress in the country. Zimbabwe has maintained the outward appearance of a multiparty democracy since independence in 1980. But it’s effectively been a one-party dictatorship.
The party brings a zero-sum game mindset to politics: it must always prevail, and its opponents must be crushed rather than accommodated. Opposition parties formally exist but they have not been allowed to win an election. Should such a possibility arise – as it did in 2002, 2008 and 2013 – elections will be rigged to preserve the status quo.
Zanu-PF provides the most egregious example of the culture of exceptionalism which has characterised the liberation party in power. These include:
the belief that its entitled to rule indefinitely,
its refusal to view itself as an ordinary political party,
its conflating of party and state, and
its demonising of other parties as ‘enemies of liberation’ seeking to restore colonialism or white minority rule.
The way in which Zanu-PF has colonised the state over almost four decades means that there is a vast web of patronage networks that have been entrenched to facilitate the looting of the state’s resources. Democratic change and clean government pose a mortal threat to these networks and such privileges are unlikely to be surrendered without intense resistance.
The new president
Mnangagwa’s ominous record makes it difficult to build a persuasive case that he represents a new beginning.
He served as Mugabe’s “chief enforcer” until November 2017. He was pivotal to the collapse of the rule of law and the implosion of the Zimbabwean economy. And he has been a central player in the gross human rights abuses that have characterised Zanu-PF rule. This includes the killings in Matabeleland killings in the 1980s. This is a past for which he has refused to acknowledge any responsibility.
His more conciliatory language has not matched his actions. After becoming president he appointed an administration of cronies, military hardliners and ‘war veterans’.
The appointments appeared to consolidate the power of the now dominant faction of Zanu-PF: the old guard securocrats who routed Grace Mugabe’s equally malign G40 faction through the barrel of a gun rather than democratic processes.
Having waited such a seemingly interminable length of time to land the top job, it is difficult to envisage Mnangagwa now placing his hard earned spoils at the mercy of a programme of democratisation.
The Zimbabwean Defence Force’s role in the removal of the president means that it has secured a place for itself as a privileged political actor and overseer of the entire political system.
The defence force has never been a neutral custodian of constitutional rule. Instead it has always been a highly politicised extension of the ruling party, a party militia in effect.
Previously its role was confined to repressing the ruling party’s opponents and maintaining the party’s dominance. The principle of civilian rule was respected even if this model of civil-military relations failed to meet any reasonable democratic standards. But with the coup, the military crossed a line. They determined the outcome of power struggles within the ruling party itself.
In the same way that the military has been politicised, the political system has been heavily militarised. This can be seen in the several key military veterans who have been appointed to the cabinet as well as Mnangagwa being the military’s candidate for the presidency. Essentially this is the civilian face of quasi-military rule in Zimbabwe.
What this points to is an effective “barracks democracy” emerging in Zimbabwe. The military has secured a veto over the leadership of the ruling party and over the wider political process. It also reserves the right to reject election results that it does not approve of, or to take action that could prevent such results materialising in the first place.
To see the military’s removal of Mugabe as an overriding good ignores the fact that it has no concept of the national interest, or that it views that national interest as synonymous with its own and Zanu-PF’s.
It is dangerously naïve to expect such a force to help facilitate genuine democratic transition when its entire raison d’etre has been to preserve one-party rule (under a leadership of its choosing), to disable meaningful opposition and to preserve its own corruption networks.
True democratisation – as opposed to merely maintaining the procedural forms of democratic government – is anathema to Zimbabwe’s ruling party, its president and the military.
It is evident that their task is threefold over the next few months. They have to secure support for a measure of liberalisation; arrest political enemies for corruption rather than tackling corruption per se; and provide a smokescreen of a largely vacuous democratic rhetoric.
The hope is that this will be sufficient to secure aid, investment and an endorsement by external donors while virtually nothing changes in the actual power relations inside the country.
Anyone committed to democracy in Zimbabwe -– whether inside or outside the country – should begin mobilising against this project sooner rather than later.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has revealed how he walked for more 30km to cross the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique in an apparent escape from his assassination by former President Robert Mugabe's "hunting dogs", reports said.
Mnangagwa said this in Pretoria where he addressed Zimbabwean nationals, who fled economic decline and political turmoil in the southern African country.
"I came here to pay homage to my brother President Jacob Zuma. I spent a good 16 days as a 'Diasporan' here in South Africa after walking some 30km crossing the border into Mozambique. After I had been fired around 4 o'clock (on November 6), intelligence had made me aware of the next move intended to eliminate me," NewsDay quoted Mnangagwa as saying.
"Fortunately, I found a [business] card in my wallet which bore the name of a colleague here, (Justice) Maphosa, whom I phoned and he picked me. I came here and I was well-looked after."
Mnangagwa fled to South Africa after Mugabe dismissed him during factional fighting in Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party. The firing prompted a backlash against Mugabe and Mnangagwa returned to Zimbabwe, where he was sworn in as president.
Mnangagwa's finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said that the president had been stripped of his security "both physically and at his house" immediately after his sacking from government.
"This showed his security was not guaranteed, hence, he had to become a refugee here [South Africa]," said Chinamasa.
Mnangagwa also revealed that he had been in "clandestine" communication with President Jacob Zuma during his stay in South Africa, a New Zimbabwe.com report said."I had good communication with the leadership here, not openly, you understand," Mnangagwa was cited as saying.
Who would have thought that this year would end with Robert Mugabe having lost the presidency of both the governing Zanu-PF and Zimbabwe? None could have foreseen such a development being the work of his ruling party’s inner circle.
The whole development is clearly a product of internal Zanu-PF tensions and actions. The military top brass involved are old standing Zanu-PF cadres that have propped Mugabe up for decades. Emerson Mnangagwa, who has been sworn in as his successor, has been Mugabe’s right hand man for 37 years.
Zimbabweans have every right to celebrate the end of Mugabe’s long and disastrous reign, but they would be wrong to assume that this is the end of their political problems. The same Zanu-PF leadership has taken control of this transition, making it an intra-party matter rather than a national opportunity for deepening democracy as many hope.
Mnangagwa’s first priority will be to ensure consolidation of Zanu-PF power. He may do so by positioning Zanu-PF as a born again party committed to change. He may seize the opportunity to introduce real changes in the conduct of Zanu-PF and government leadership, in economic policies and in rebuilding the social compact by showing greater maturity in relations with other political parties and civil society.
But, as reports surface about the harassment of some of Mugabe appointed ministers and their families at the hands of men in uniform, we are reminded that the military should never be encouraged to manage political problems because they are likely to cross the line of civil-military relations. Excessive use of military power is likely to follow.
Mugabe the survivor
Mugabe has survived many attempts to get rid of him before. These include the efforts of the previous opposition Zimbabwean African People’s Union (Zapu) under Joshua Nkomo in the 1980s, through to the Zimbabwe Unity Movement in the 1990s and to Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the 2000s. All these efforts failed because Mugabe has, at times, been popular, at times cunning and at times ruthless in preserving power – for himself and the Zanu-PF.
At times reliance on patronage of indigenous systems of leadership helped Mugabe and the party ward off challenges. Over the past 15 years, Zanu-PF has relied on the crude use of state power, draconian security measures and brutality on the streets.
It has also resorted to buying popularity through measures such as the violent land restitution process between 2001 and 2007.
After 2007, Zanu-PF and Mugabe had to contend with a regional mediation process by the Southern African Development Community after an election they lost, but which the MDC did not win by margins needed to form its own government. Zanu-PF responded by unleashing violence and brutality on opponents. Power sharing, which gave the MDC and its leader Morgan Tsvangarai an opportunity to position themselves as alternatives, saw Mugabe and Zanu-PF play every trick in the book to preserve power.
After Zanu-PF narrowly won the 2013 elections, it seemed that Mugabe and his party had finally prevailed. But the power battles turned inward, as party factions jostled over who would succeed Mugabe.
Zanu-PF power struggles
Various factions in the Zanu-PF have crystallised into two main camps.
The first is Mugabe and his henchmen of the so-called Zezuru group, including top heads of security forces who had wanted Mugabe to continue for a long time. They favoured Solomon Mujuru before he died and later Mnangagwa as a successor.
The second was made up of younger, rather flamboyant group of mainly men around Mugabe Zanu-PF politicians who had gained power and influence in the civil service. This group was known as the G-40. In the past few years this group backed Grace Mugabe as her husband’s successor.
Things have hung in the balance with the G40 gaining momentum because they could influence Mugabe’s judgement and decisions through his wife and nephews. This group could make a call who needed to be fired or isolated – and the president would act accordingly.
For example, when moderates in the Zanu-PF and war veterans touted Vice President Joice Mujuru as possible successor to Mugabe, the G40 aimed a barrage of insults against her and publicly declared that her time was up. Shortly afterwards Mugabe fired her and got her expelled from the party. This deepened divisions within Zanu-PF and intensified concern about the G40 and Grace Mugabe.
The last straw was the firing of Mnangagwa and threats against chiefs of armed forces.
Believing that Mugabe was being manipulated by the G40, the military stepped in to weed out those around the president. What they wanted was to persuade Mugabe to go and for Mnangagwa to replace him in as peaceful a process as possible so as not to destabilise Zanu-PF’s hold on power. The military showed great patience as it set about achieving this outcome.
New forces versus old
Mugabe is gone. A faction of the Zanu-PF that had gained currency around him is being squeezed out of every space in Zimbabwe. A new faction under Mnangagwa is in place.
Mugabe stands as a shadow of continuity behind leaders who have been around him for decades and who have now been entrusted with the renewal agenda. Mugabe has left, but what’s been called Mugabeism remains: both the positive side of vehemently defending the sovereignty of Zimbabwe and the negative side of the brutality of state power.
Mnangagwa and the military have lavished him with generous post-retirement packages, honoured with a holiday in his name and praise. The interim president has warned the deposed G-40 faction of Zanu-PF to return stolen state monies or face the law.
A clean break with Mugabe’s heritage of violence and crude dominance will have to wait even beyond elections next year. Zimbabwean citizens have been energised by their role in removing Mugabe. They would do well to remain vigilant, to press for more fundamental changes in the way the state behaves and insisting on democratic processes in economic policies. Otherwise they will continue to live under one Zanu-PF faction to another without real change in their lives.