HARARE, ZIMBABWE – Many freedom fighters in Africa such as Nelson Mandela of South Africa, and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana liberated their country and eventually relinquish power. But Robert Mugabe held on for nearly forty years. Many generations of Zimbabweans know no other leader except Mugabe if he had his way he would have died in office. His reign came to an abrupt end when the country’s military took over government institutions, buildings, state broadcasters and the country airports. Though the military calls it a “non-coup d’etat” but restoring military officers, have detained some of Mugabe’s top allies and supporters, including the country finance minister (the money man) and the head of presidential security (safety man).

Over the last thirty-seven years, Mugabe’s status as a freedom fighter has eroded to that of an international pariah forcing other African heads of state to demand his resignation. Zimbabwe, a former British colony, rich in diamonds and platinum has gone from the best country in Africa to a recipient of food aid from western countries because of economic mismanagement, corruption, nepotism, and hyperinflation.

In 2001 as Zimbabwe was going through an economic stagnation with rising inflation hovering over a 1000% Grace Mugabe, the wife of president Mugabe spent 25 million dollars building a palace named after her “Graceland” which she eventually sold to another strongman, Libya’s former dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

During the early years (1980-1997) Mr. Mugabe was applauded by his supporters and the international community for being inclusive and reform-minded. He went to great lengths to ensure a positive working relationship with the West but also protecting the white minority of Zimbabwe.

However, in the 1990’s disastrous economic reform resulted in considerable increases in unemployment forcing a brain drain where Zimbabwe best-educated citizens fled to other countries. Zimbabwe’s ill-conceived land reform has forced many white Zimbabweans to flee the country as the government began to confiscate white lands and turn them over to allies and supporters of Mugabe – a policy that triggered Western sanctions in 2003 leading to more economic malaise. Hyperinflation forced the country to adopt the US Dollar as its currency in 2003 in an attempt to revive the economy.

The military putsch provides an opportunity for new leadership which could have broad implications for a country rich in precious metals but still struggling with poverty and unemployment. Prior Mugabe removal, international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank had stepped up engagement with the government with the hope that  Mr. Emmerson Mnangagwa would eventually emerge as the country’s president replacing the aging Mugabe fostering a free market-oriented economy.

The dismissal of Mr. Mnangagwa by Mugabe on November 6 came as a surprise to foreign observers and paved the way for Mugabe’s removal by the military. Political observers in Zimbabwe told Omegaworldnews that Mugabe was preparing to clear the way for his wife, 52-year-old Grace Mugabe, aka “Gucci Grace” to replace him. Though she is popular and has some support among the country’s youth – those under 40, the international community has more confidence in Mr. Mnangagwa, a seasoned politician, and bureaucrat who favors a market-oriented economy, not the Marxist leaning Mugabe.

As Mr. Mnangagwa return to Zimbabwe’s capital, it would send the wrong signal for the military to end over power to him. Zimbabweans must be allowed to vote for the person they believe is qualified to represent their interest. A democratic government would have credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of the world. Anything less would be a waste of an excellent opportunity for Zimbabwe to join the list of democratic nations.

E Roy


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