Category Archives: Zimbabwe

(Economist) What is at stake in Zimbabwe’s election?

(Economist) Robert Mugabe is no longer on the ballot. But his catastrophic legacy looms over the vote.

AS ZIMBABWEANS enter the polling booth on July 30th they face an unfamiliar sight. For the first time in 38 years the name of Robert Mugabe is not be on the ballot paper. Last year the 94-year-old dictator was toppled in a “military-assisted transition”: otherwise known as a coup. Yet his party, Zanu-PF, and many of his henchmen, remain in power. Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mr Mugabe’s 75-year-old successor and long-time associate, is running to keep his job as president. His opponent, Nelson Chamisa, the 40-year-old leader of the MDC Alliance, is trying to stop him.

Whoever wins faces a huge task in putting back together a country shattered by a corrupt tyrant and his cronies, including Mr Mnangagwa. Once the breadbasket of southern Africa, this year up to 2.5m of Zimbabwe’s citizens may need food parcels from international aid agencies. Five million Zimbabweans have emigrated over the past two decades or so. In many cases their remittances are the main source of income for the families that have remained. The economy is smaller than it was two decades ago and just 6% of the working-age population is in formal work. There is a severe liquidity crisis as a result of a lack of hard currency. The government is again effectively printing money to pay for a corrupt state which it cannot afford.

The election is a chance for Zimbabwe to start to fix this mess. To do so it needs to hold a vote that key players, such as America, Britain, China, the EU and South Africa say is free and fair. That way lies approval from the International Monetary Fund to start lending Zimbabwe money again. In theory, the need for legitimacy should stop Zanu-PF rigging the election, as they have in the past. But there is increasing evidence the party is up to its old tricks, and many are worried that should Mr Mnangagwa win, foreign governments will declare the vote free and fair “enough” and move on. Some of this attitude stems from an optimistic view of the president as a reformer-in-waiting. This opinion is not entirely without merit. Mr Mnangagwa has declared Zimbabwe “open for business”, pledged to improve property rights and to make it easier for foreigners to invest. But the case against remains stronger: this is, after all, the ruling elite that ruined an economy and orchestrated the murder and torture of its opponents.

If the election were entirely fair the opposition would probably win. But whatever the actual result, two things are likely. The first is that it will be contested. If Mr Mnangagwa wins, the MDC may take to the streets to protest against the result. If somehow Mr Chamisa wins, or at least forces a run-off (ie, if no candidate wins a majority in the first round), then the ruling military-political nexus at the top of Zimbabwe may not accept it. The second thing that seems certain is that, whichever candidate eventually becomes president, he will have to face a harsh economic reality: no IMF programme will accept a country’s printing money in order to fund its fiscal deficit. Both factors are a sign that although Mr Mugabe’s name is not on the ballot, his ruinous legacy endures.

P.O. (BBC) Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe resigns, ending 37-year rule

P.O.  

Personally I wouldn’t hold talks with Mr Mugabe even on a choice of ice creams…

Got it?

FCMP

(BBC) Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has resigned, bringing an end to 37 years of rule and sparking jubilant celebrations in the nation’s streets.

A letter from Mr Mugabe read out by the speaker of parliament said the decision was voluntary and he had made it to allow a smooth transfer of power.

The news abruptly halted an impeachment hearing that had begun against him.

The ruling Zanu-PF party says former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa will succeed Mr Mugabe, in power since 1980.

Mr Mnangagwa’s sacking earlier this month triggered a political crisis.

It had been seen by many as an attempt to clear the way for Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband as leader and riled the military leadership, who stepped in and put Mr Mugabe under house arrest.

After the resignation announcement, lawmakers roared in jubilation.

Mr Mugabe, 93, was until his resignation the world’s oldest leader. He had previously refused to quit despite last week’s military takeover and days of protests.

Media captionScenes of jubilation on the streets of the capital

According to the constitution his successor should be the current vice-president, Phelekezela Mphoko, a supporter of Grace Mugabe.

But Zanu-PF chief whip Lovemore Matuke told Reuters news agency that Mr Mnangagwa would be in office “within 48 hours”.

Speaking from an undisclosed location earlier on Tuesday, Mr Mnangagwa said he had fled abroad two weeks ago when he learned of a plot to kill him.

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An untypical end

Analysis by BBC world affairs editor, John Simpson

Robert Mugabe in 1980Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Most people assumed that the only way Robert Mugabe would give up being president was to die in his bed. He probably thought so too.

In fact the last of the old-style 1970s and 80s liberation leaders, most untypically, resigned in writing. Perhaps that says something about the way the world has changed in the 21st Century.

No storming the presidential palace, no ugly end at the hands of a crowd like Col Gaddafi, no execution by firing squad like President Ceausescu of Romania, no hanging like Saddam Hussein.

Zimbabwe, in spite of everything Robert Mugabe visited upon it, is essentially a peaceable, gentle country. And despite all the immense crimes for which he was responsible, he is in some ways an intellectual, rather than a brutal thug along the lines of, say, Idi Amin.

He’ll be remembered for the massacres in Matabeleland in the 1980s, for the farm invasions of the 1990s and later, and for the brutal repression of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change when it seemed on course to win the 2008 presidential election.

The man who seems about to take his place, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was deeply involved in most of those crimes, yet people in Zimbabwe, like the outside world, will be so relieved to see Mr Mugabe go that they will be tempted to forget all that.

They’ll also forget the few unquestionably good things Robert Mugabe did. Zimbabwe, for instance, has an extraordinarily high literacy rate, because of him. But that’s certainly not what he’ll be remembered for.

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‘Let him rest in his last days’

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said Mr Mugabe’s resignation “provides Zimbabwe with an opportunity to forge a new path free of the oppression that characterised his rule”.

She said that former colonial power Britain, “as Zimbabwe’s oldest friend”, will do all it can to support free and fair elections and the rebuilding of the Zimbabwean economy.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai told the BBC he hoped that Zimbabwe was on a “new trajectory” that would include free and fair elections. He said Mr Mugabe should be allowed to “go and rest for his last days”.

In other reaction:

  • The US Embassy in Harare, the capital, said it was a “historic moment” and congratulated Zimbabweans who “raised their voices and stated peacefully and clearly that the time for change was overdue”
  • South Africa’s main opposition Democratic Alliance welcomed the move, saying Mr Mugabe had turned from “liberator to dictator”
  • Prominent Zimbabwean opposition politician David Coltart tweeted: “We have removed a tyrant but not yet a tyranny”
  • Civil society group the Platform for Concerned Citizens called for dialogue between all political parties, which it said should lead to the formation of a national transitional authority

Robert Mugabe won elections during his 37 years in power, but over the past 15 years these were marred by violence against political opponents.

He presided over a deepening economic crisis in Zimbabwe, where people are on average 15% poorer now than they were in 1980.

Media captionActivist and political candidate Vimbaishe Musvaburi breaks down in tears of joy

However, Mr Mugabe was not forced out after decades in power by a popular mass movement but rather as a result of political splits within his Zanu-PF party.

The leader of the influential liberation war veterans – former allies of Mr Mugabe – said after the army takeover that Mr Mugabe was a “dictator”, who “as he became old, surrendered his court to a gang of thieves around his wife”.

Both he and Grace, 52, are believed to be at a mansion in Harare.’

Mr Mugabe’s decision to finally resign sparked joy in the streets.

Media captionMorgan Tsvangirai told the BBC he hoped that Zimbabwe was on a “new trajectory”

“We are just so happy that things are finally going to change,” Togo Ndhlalambi, a hairdresser, told the AFP news agency.

“I am the happiest person under the sun right now, because I always believed that Mugabe was going to step down in my lifetime and it has happened,” human rights activist Linda Masarira told the BBC.

“And now going forward it’s time for the opposition to reorganise and ensure that we will have a government that cares for the people. And everyone has to be included.”

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Robert Mugabe – Timeline of a political life

Grace and Robert Mugabe togetherImage copyrightAFP
Image captionPresident Mugabe was accused of preparing the presidency for his wife Grace
  • 1924: Born in Kutama
  • 1964: Imprisoned by Rhodesian government
  • 1980: Wins post-independence elections
  • 1996: Marries Grace Marufu
  • 2000: Loses referendum, pro-Mugabe militias invade white-owned farms and attack opposition supporters
  • 2008: Comes second in first round of elections to Morgan Tsvangirai who pulls out of run-off amid nationwide attacks on his supporters
  • 2009: Amid economic collapse, swears in Mr Tsvangirai as prime minister, who serves in uneasy government of national unity for four years
  • 2017: Sacks long-time ally Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, paving the way for his wife Grace to succeed him. Army intervenes and forces him to step down

Media captionMugabe: From war hero to resignation

(BBG) Mugabe Faces Impeachment as He Resists Zimbabwe Resignation

(Bloomberg) — Zimbabwe remains in political limbo after
President Robert Mugabe failed to announce his much-anticipated
resignation in a televised address and said he’ll preside over a
ruling party conference next month.
Mugabe deviated from his agreed-upon speech, and
impeachment proceedings spearheaded by his ruling Zimbabwe
African National Union-Patriotic Front will begin on Monday to
force an end to this 37 years in power, according to three
senior party officials who declined to be identified because
they aren’t authorized to comment.
Delivering the nationally televised address with the armed
forces commanders who took power last week looking on, Mugabe,
who is the world’s oldest serving leader at 93, frequently lost
his place and had to repeat himself.
“We cannot be guided by vengefulness or bitterness,” he
said. “Let us all move forward.”
Earlier Sunday, Zanu-PF central committee decided to fire
him as its leader and ordered him to step down. Emmerson
Mnangagwa, who Mugabe dismissed as vice president this month,
will be reinstated, take over as interim president and be Zanu-
PF’s presidential candidate in elections next year, the party
said. It also expelled the president’s wife, Grace, Phelekezela
Mphoko, the nation’s other vice president, along with several
other senior officials.
The ruling party’s decision to dump Mugabe came four days
after the military placed him under house arrest and detained
several of his closest allies — a move triggered by his
dismissal of Mnangagwa, 75. Seeing the likelihood of Mugabe’s
ouster, joyous crowds turned out in Harare and Bulawayo —
Zimbabwe’s second-largest city — on Saturday to celebrate.
“It’s not clear what happened but we are proceeding
tomorrow,” Chris Mutsvanga, the head of the Zimbabwe War
Veterans Association, said in reference to the planned
impeachment proceedings in parliament. “Mugabe is deaf to the
people of Zimbabwe. The people are 100 percent behind removing
him.”
The political crisis comes at a time when the economy is in
free-fall. An estimated 95 percent of the workforce is
unemployed, public infrastructure is crumbling and about 3
million Zimbabweans have gone into exile.
“We all thought he was going to resign. Then it became
clear he was disassociating himself from this and was
positioning himself as the answer to Zimbabwe’s problems,” Nic
Cheeseman, professor of democracy at the University of
Birmingham in the U.K., said by phone from Harare. “This might
be a last gambit by Mugabe. It’s unclear why the military
allowed him to make this speech.”

(NYT) Behind Mugabe’s Rapid Fall: A Firing, a Feud and a First Lady

(NYT)

President Robert Mugabe inspecting an honor guard at a Heroes Day event held at National Heroes Acre in Zimbabwe in August. CreditJekesai Njikizana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

HARARE, Zimbabwe — The rapid fall of Zimbabwe’s president, whose legendary guile and ruthlessness helped him outmaneuver countless adversaries over nearly four decades, probably has surprised no one more than Robert Mugabe himself.

For years, he was so confident of his safety — and his potency — that he took monthlong vacations away from Zimbabwe after Christmas, never facing any threat during his long, predictable absences. Even at 93, his tight grip on the country’s ruling party and his control over the military made his power seem impervious to question.

But in just a matter of days, Mr. Mugabe, who ruled his nation since independence in 1980, was largely stripped of his authority, even as he still clung to the presidency.

In a much-anticipated speech on Sunday night, Mr. Mugabe, instead of announcing his resignation as most of the country had expected, stunned Zimbabwe by refusing to say he was stepping down. While he conceded that his country was “going through a difficult patch,” he gave no sign that he recognized, or accepted, how severely the ground had shifted under him in such a short time.

Earlier in the day, the governing ZANU-PF party, over which he had always exercised total domination, expelled Mr. Mugabe as leader, with cheers and dancing erupting after the vote. He was given a deadline of noon on Monday to resign or face impeachment by Parliament.Just days earlier, on Wednesday, soldiers put him under house arrest, and his 52-year-old wife, Grace Mugabe, whose ambition to succeed him contributed to his downfall, has not been seen in public since.

Photo

Christopher Mutsvangwa, center, head of the war veterans association, celebrated the dismissal of the president of the ruling ZANU-PF party on Sunday in Harare.CreditJekesai Njikizana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

But in his speech, Mr. Mugabe even declared that he would preside over his governing party’s congress in a few weeks. After 37 years in control of the nation, he was refusing to let go easily.

A Fateful Firing

The chain of events leading to Mr. Mugabe’s downfall started on Nov. 6, when he fired his vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, a close ally of the military, and then tried to arrest the nation’s top military commander a few days later. Mr. Mugabe had finally come down against the military and its political allies in a long-running feud inside the governing party.

“He crossed the red line, and we couldn’t allow that to continue,” said Douglas Mahiya, a leader of the war veterans’ association, a group that has acted as the military’s proxy in the country’s political battles while allowing uniformed generals to remain publicly neutral.

A few hours after he was fired, Mr. Mnangagwa, fearing arrest, fled with a son into neighboring Mozambique, where he has strong military ties. He eventually made his way to South Africa, allies said.

July Moyo, a close ally of Mr. Mnangagwa, said the vice president had prepared himself for the possibility of being fired. “He accepted that things can turn very bad, so he had conditioned himself,” Mr. Moyo said.

Several hours before the vice president escaped to Mozambique, Christopher Mutsvangwa, the head of the war veterans’ association and one of Mr. Mnangagwa’s closest allies, had boarded a plane to South Africa.

Over the following days, Mr. Mutsvangwa met with South African intelligence officers, he said, warning them of a possible military intervention in Zimbabwe. He said he had tried to persuade South African officials not to describe any intervention as a “coup” — an important concession to get from South Africa, the regional power.

Though this account could not be verified with South African officials on Sunday, the South African government did not mention the word “coup” in its official statement after the military intervention occurred on Wednesday.

“I knew that the way they were driving, the military, inevitably, there would be one at one stage or another,” Mr. Mutsvangwa said, referring to a military intervention.

While Mr. Mutsvangwa worked on South African officials, Zimbabwe’s longtime top military commander, Gen. Constantino Chiwenga, was in China on an official trip. He was tipped off while abroad that Mr. Mugabe had ordered him arrested upon his return home, according to several people close to the military. The police were going to grab the general as soon as his plane touched down, on Nov. 12.

But as General Chiwenga prepared to land, soldiers loyal to him infiltrated the airport. His troops — wearing the uniforms of baggage handlers — surprised and quickly overwhelmed the police. Before departing, the general is said to have told the police officers that he would “deal” with their commander, a Mugabe loyalist.

Within just a couple of days, tanks had rumbled into the capital and soldiers had effectively deposed Mr. Mugabe.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, center, arriving at a funeral ceremony at the National Heroes Acre in Harare in January. CreditJekesai Njikizana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Fierce Infighting

The president’s decision to fire his vice president and arrest the general was the culmination of a long — and increasingly vicious and personal — battle inside ZANU-PF, the party that has controlled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980. The so-called Lacoste faction was led by Mr. Mnangagwa, whose nickname is the Crocodile, and was backed by the military and war veterans.

The rival faction was led by the president’s wife and supported by the police, whose loyalty Mr. Mugabe had ensured by, among other moves, naming a nephew to a top command. This faction included mostly younger politicians with no experience in the war of liberation and was christened Generation 40, or G-40, by Jonathan Moyo, a fearless, extremely ambitious politician widely regarded as the mastermind behind this group.

As Lacoste and G-40 fought each other to eventually succeed Mr. Mugabe, the president did not give either side his declaration of support. To both factions, the biggest factor was Mr. Mugabe’s age and increasingly visible frailty. It was only a matter of time before “nature will take its course” and “the old man goes,” as the political class said.

Time was on Lacoste’s side. Once nature did take its course, power would naturally slip to Mr. Mnangagwa and his military backers, they believed.

Mr. Mnangagwa remained largely quiet, refraining from responding to attacks, and treated Mr. Mugabe with extreme deference. Whenever Mr. Mugabe flew home from a trip, state media invariably showed Mr. Mnangagwa greeting the president on the tarmac, displaying an almost obsequious smile and body language.

To the younger members in G-40, time was against them. Their biggest asset, Mrs. Mugabe, would lose all value once her husband died. So they were in a rush to get a transfer of power while Mr. Mugabe was still alive.

Delegates at the extraordinary ZANU-PF party central committee meeting in Harare on Sunday.CreditAaron Ufumeli/European Pressphoto Agency

Just a few months ago, Mr. Moyo confided in a friend that he was “less than confident” about G-40’s standing with the president. Despite his efforts to win over the president through Mrs. Mugabe, Mr. Moyo still remained unsure about the “old man’s standing vis-à-vis Mnangagwa and Chiwenga,” said the friend, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the conversation had been private.

“He felt he had to disqualify Mnangagwa very soon because the old man was still tentative,” the friend said.

The First Lady and the Fall

Mr. Mugabe’s downfall was rooted in his wife’s decision to become a political force in mid-2014, most politicians and experts believe.

“Mrs. Mugabe’s entry into politics caused elite rupture in Zimbabwe,” said Tendai Biti, a lawyer, opposition politician and former finance minister in a coalition government a few years ago. “This coup was the result of a disagreement between people eating at the same table, whereas most coups in Africa are done by people eating under the table and receiving crumbs.”

Why Mrs. Mugabe, now 52, suddenly dove into politics is not exactly clear. Married for decades to Mr. Mugabe, she had been known as “Gucci Grace,” someone interested in shopping and leading a lavish lifestyle. She was a typist in the presidential pool when she and Mr. Mugabe began an affair while the president’s first wife, Sally, was dying of cancer. Unlike the much-beloved first wife, the second Mrs. Mugabe was widely disliked among Zimbabweans.

Some politicians and experts point to the hand of Mr. Moyo, the originator of the G-40 name, for Mrs. Mugabe’s political intentions.

In ZANU-PF’s ever-shifting alliances, Mr. Moyo had a checkered past. In 2004, he was expelled from the party after planning a power play with — critically — none other than Mr. Mnangagwa himself, who managed to escape politically unscathed. Feeling betrayed by Mr. Mnangagwa, Mr. Moyo vowed never to work with him again, setting off a decade-long feud that fed into the recent military takeover.

Mr. Moyo, reportedly admired by Mr. Mugabe for his intelligence, was rehabilitated, rejoined the party and was given ministerial positions in the cabinet.

But in June 2014, Mr. Moyo was again on the outs. At a funeral for a party stalwart at National Heroes Acre, a burial ground and national monument in Harare, the capital, Mr. Mugabe criticized Mr. Moyo for causing dissension in the party. The president referred to him as a “weevil” — an insect that eats corn, Zimbabwe’s staple food, from the inside.

“Even in ZANU-PF, we have the weevils,” the president said. “But should we keep them? No.”

To secure his survival, Mr. Moyo urged Mrs. Mugabe to enter politics, according to politicians, friends and analysts.

“He preyed on her fears,” said Dewa Mavhinga, a Zimbabwe researcher for Human Rights Watch, referring to Mr. Moyo. “You’re a young wife with an old husband in his sunset moments. You have to guarantee your future. You need people who are loyal to you. And who better to protect your interests than yourself.”

Very rapidly, Mrs. Mugabe and her allies orchestrated the removal of rivals, including Joice Mujuru, a vice president, as well as Mr. Mutsvangwa, who had been Mr. Mugabe’s minister of war veterans affairs.

The wife of the new president of the ZANU-PF party, Auxilia Mnangagwa, was congratulated on her reinstatement to the party on Sunday in Harare. CreditJekesai Njikizana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

But even as the president’s medical trips to Singapore were getting increasingly frequent, he was not making a final decision on his succession.

Time was running out.

And so, Mr. Moyo, shortly after expressing his growing frustrations to his friend, appeared to go for broke. In July, in a meeting of party leaders, he launched a direct attack on Mr. Mnangagwa, presenting a 72-minute video said to show his rival’s duplicity and desire to topple the president.

At the same time, Mrs. Mugabe intensified her faction’s attacks, describing Mr. Mnangagwa as a “coward” and “coup plotter.”

At a rally in the city of Bulawayo early this month, some youths, presumably from the rival Lacoste faction, began heckling Mrs. Mugabe, calling her a “thief.”

“If you were paid to boo me, go ahead,” she said. “I am the first lady, and I will stand for the truth. Bring the soldiers and let them shoot me.”

The heckling visibly angered Mr. Mugabe, who immediately accused Mr. Mnangagwa of being behind it.

“Did I err in appointing Mr. Mnangagwa as my deputy?” the president said. “If I erred, I will drop him even tomorrow.”

Two days later, he fired Mr. Mnangagwa, opening the path for Mrs. Mugabe to become vice president and, once nature took its course, her husband’s successor.

Mrs. Mugabe and her allies had finally won. But the victory would soon prove Pyrrhic.

As the Lacoste faction solidified the takedown of Mr. Mugabe, party officials on Sunday removed Mrs. Mugabe as head of the ZANU-PF Women’s League and barred her from the party for life. Mr. Moyo, too, was barred forever. Mr. Mugabe’s second vice president, Phelekezela Mphoko, who had served for three years, was fired.

The ending was much sweeter for Mr. Mnangagwa: On Sunday, the party named him as its new leader.

(BBG) A Half-Hearted Coup, Extending Zimbabwe’s Reign of Terror

(BBG) Leadership is likely to fall to the corrupt first lady or the president’s vicious deputy.

If there were justice in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe would be removed from power by a free and fair election. The promise of the independence struggle Mugabe led 40 years ago could finally be fulfilled. The country he ruined could begin the long process of recovery.

Zimbabwe is a basket case of a nation, but its ruling regime does have an opposition, and it has had elections. In 2009, Zimbabweans came close to a decent end to their national nightmare when Mugabe agreed to share power with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, the man who likely won the election in 2008. And for a period it worked. But then in 2013, Mugabe stole the election again. Tsvangirai left the government, Mugabe accused him of treason, and Zimbabwe continued to spiral.

Today it looks like Mugabe is finally out. The military leaders who ousted him say he is safe and secure. South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, said Wednesday that he had spoken with the 93-year-old Mugabe, who said that he was safe and confined to his home.

Getting rid of Mugabe is a good thing. He was a tyrant in senescence, known for falling asleep in government meetings. (North Koreans would call him a “dotard.”) But the military coup that unseated him shows no signs of ending Zimbabwe’s political and economic decline. This is not a moment of hope like the 2009 power sharing agreement was. It is really a power struggle between his wife and former typist, Grace Mugabe, and his former vice president and all-around enforcer, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Consider the context of this week’s coup. Last week Robert Mugabe stripped Mnangagwa of his position as vice president, and his government accused him of disloyalty and deceit. This was largely seen as a way to clear the path to power for Grace Mugabe, who has been positioning to take over the country herself after her husband finally died.

Now consider the statement from Maj. Gen. S. B. Moyo, the chief of staff to the military, in the aftermath of the coup. He said the military was not assuming political power from the deposed leader. “We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice,” he said.

That statement was almost definitely directed at Grace Mugabe. Among the ruling elite, she has earned the moniker, “Gucci Grace” for her expensive shopping sprees. Earlier this year she used her diplomatic immunity in South Africa to avoid charges from the police for assaulting a model with an electric plug. (Zimbabwe’s first lady pulled a similar maneuver in 2009 when she was accused, along with her bodyguards, of assaulting a photographer.)

None of this is to say Mnangagwa is better. His nickname is “the Crocodile,” because that is the symbol of his family and clan. But he has himself acted like something of a swamp monster during his years by Mugabe’s side. Some of the highlights of his brutality include overseeing the crackdown on Mugabe’s political opposition in 2008 after Tsvangirai won the first round of elections. Mnangagwa was the minister of state security for Mugabe in the early 1980s during what was known as the Gukurahundi massacres, where as many as 20,000 people were slaughtered in a campaign in the eastern part of the country. Recently the Crocodile hinted that he was willing to come forward about the atrocity and pin the blame on his old boss.

Zimbabwe deserves better than Gucci Grace or the Crocodile. It’s not too late for the military to prepare for a real transition to democracy and call for elections. But for now, it appears the generals have paved the way for the dictator to be replaced by one of his henchmen.

(BBG) Mugabe’s Era Comes to an End as Zimbabwe’s Military Seizes Power

(BBG) Zimbabwe’s military seized power and detained 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe in a struggle over the succession of the only leader the African nation has ever known.

Mugabe was confined at his home, while Zimbabwe Defense Forces spokesman Major-General Sibusiso Moyo said in a televised address that the military action was “targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes.” Ministers in Mugabe’s administration have been accused of corruption.

Troops took control of the state-owned broadcaster and sealed off parliament and the central bank’s offices, while armored vehicles were stationed in the center of the capital, Harare.

The military intervention followed a week-long political crisis sparked by Mugabe’s decision to fire his long-time ally Emmerson Mnangagwa as vice president in a move that paved the way for his wife Grace, 52, and her supporters to gain effective control over the ruling party. Nicknamed “Gucci Grace” in Zimbabwe for her extravagant lifestyle, she said on Nov. 5 that she would be prepared to succeed her husband.

The takeover comes at a delicate moment for Zimbabwe, where an estimated 95 percent of the workforce is jobless and as many as 3 million Zimbabweans have gone into exile. With an economy that has halved in size since 2000 and relies mainly on the dollar because it has no currency of its own, a severe cash shortage is choking businesses and forces some people to sleep in the streets near banks to ensure they can make withdrawals, which are confined to as little as $20 a day.

President Jacob Zuma of neighboring South Africa called for calm and urged the military to maintain the peace. Western governments urged their citizens in Zimbabwe to remain indoors.

While declining to call the military’s move a coup, the U.S. State Department said in a statement Wednesday that “it is vital that Zimbabwean leaders exercise restraint and respect the rule of law. We do not condone military intervention in political processes.”

Zimbabwe stocks fell the most in two months and bitcoin climbed as much as 10 percent to $13,499 on the country’s Golix exchange. The currency of neighboring South Africa barely moved, with the rand less than 0.1 percent weaker against the dollar by 3:30 p.m. in Johannesburg. Zimbabwe buys manufactured goods and other products from South Africa.

The action came a day after armed forces commander Constantine Chiwenga announced that the military would stop “those bent on hijacking the revolution.”

As several armored vehicles appeared in the capital on Tuesday, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front described Chiwenga’s statements as “treasonable” and intended to incite insurrection. Later in the day, several explosions were heard in the city.

People involved in the “purge” of liberation war veterans from the government will be arrested and charged, according to a senior official involved in the army action, who asked not to be named as the information isn’t public.

While the armed forces denied that their action represented a coup, the country is now under military rule, said Alex Magaisa, a Zimbabwean law lecturer who is based in the U.K. and helped design Zimbabwe’s 2013 constitution.

Man In Uniform

“When you see a man in uniform reading news on national television, you know it’s done,” he said in a text message. “There are no more questions. Authority is now in the hands of the military.”

Mnangagwa, who said he fled Zimbabwe because of threats against him and his family, had been a pillar of a military and security apparatus that helped Mugabe emerge as the nation’s leader after independence from the U.K. in 1980. He was Zimbabwe’s first national security minister.

Johannesburg-based IOL reported Mnangagwa had returned to the Zimbabwean capital on Wednesday. Ex-Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, a Mugabe rival, also returned to Zimbabwe amid the military intervention, Sky News reported.

Mnangagwa’s dismissal signaled Mugabe’s break with most of his allies who fought in the liberation war against the white-minority regime of Rhodesia, leaving his wife’s so-called Generation-40 faction of younger members of the ruling party in the ascendancy.

While Zanu-PF named Mugabe as its presidential candidate in elections next year against a possible seven-party opposition coalition, he’s appeared frail in public, sparking concern among his supporters that he wouldn’t be able to complete another five-year term.

The Southern African Development Community will closely monitor the situation in Zimbabwe and remains ready to assist where necessary to resolve the political impasse, Zuma, who’s currently head of the organization, said in a statement. Coups are uncommon in southern Africa and previous ones in smaller countries such as Lesotho have been overturned after regional intervention.

Moyo, in his statement, told members of parliament that the military’s “desire is that a dispensation is created that allows you to serve your respective constituencies according to democratic tenets.”

Elections probably won’t be held as scheduled, Rashweat Mukundu, an analyst with the Harare-based Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, said by phone.

“The military is going to determine the shape of Zimbabwean politics, although they’ve tried to say this is not a coup,” he said. “This may result in the creation of a new unity government which will involve the opposition.”

(BBG) Editorial Board: The Good and Bad News About Mugabe’s Exit

(BBG) Few will miss Zimbabwe’s autocratic leader — but military coups rarely end well.

Under renovation.

Photographer: Jekesai Njikizana/AFP/Getty Images

The fall from power of Zimbabwe’s 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe would be well worth celebrating — were it not for the manner of his exit and the danger it presents for his woefully mismanaged country.

Over the course of nearly four decades, Mugabe has brought what should have been one of Africa’s most prosperous economies to a state of outright collapse. Wishing to create a dynasty, he then tried to engineer the succession of his wife— ousting her most plausible rival, the former head of the nation’s security service. The armed forces stepped in, dethroning one dictator and perhaps making way for the next.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose removal precipitated this struggle, is no paragon of liberal democracy. He leads a rival faction of Zanu-PF, the ruling party, which has a long and brutal history of corruption and repression. Sadly, Zimbabwe’s defense forces are champions of their own economic interests, not the nation’s constitution or its long-suffering citizens.

Africa’s military coups have rarely given rise to democratic constitutional order, so it’s hard to be optimistic. Still, Mugabe has set the bar for political progress about as low as it can go. It wouldn’t be hard for his successor to ease the country’s suffering, and the new leader should be encouraged to make that his priority.

The longer the military remains in control, the worse Zimbabwe’s prospects. A speedy, orderly return to civilian control is essential, preferably through the formation of a transitional government that includes members of the political opposition.

Zimbabwe was supposed to hold elections next year. Letting that vote go ahead would help staunch growing unrest. For the same reason, the next government should also abandon Mugabe’s recent crackdown on social media.

Zimbabweans need relief from their desperate economic straits. The economy has shrunk by half since 2000. It’s impossible to say how many Zimbabweans are unemployed: Estimates run as high as 90 percent. U.S. dollars — Zimbabwe’s de facto currency since a prolonged spell of hyperinflation — are in such short supply that people sleep near ATMs to get the cash they need for daily purchases.

Above all, the next government needs to roll back Mugabe’s commitment to economic repression. As the economy hit bottom, a tentative start in this direction was made. This needs to go much further. Zimbabwe will need to re-engage with multilateral institutions, which can give technical and financial aid. Zimbabwe’s donors and partners, including China, should use their leverage to press for economic reform.

In the short term, the role for outsiders in this is limited, but Zimbabwe’s neighbors and the international community should do what they can to keep a dangerous situation turning into something worse. They need to assure the new government of support so long as it works toward a peaceful and, so far as possible, legitimate succession.

(JE) Zimbabué: Mugabe continua preso em casa e não se sabe da primeira-dama

(JE) O vice-primeiro ministro da Namíbia, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, negou esta manhã a especulação de que o seu país está a albergar a primeira-dama, depois de surgirem rumores de que Grace tinha fugido para a Namíbia assim que os militares tomaram as ruas de Harare.

O presidente do Zimbabué, Robert Mugabe, ainda está sob prisão domiciliária e o impasse no país continua, principalmente em relação ao paradeiro da sua mulher. A capital do Zimbabué, Harare, amanheceu esta quinta-feira em aparente calma apesar da tensão que se vive no país, mas o futuro do governante continua a ser incerto, revelam as últimas informações das agências internacionais.

O paradero de Grace ainda é desconhecido. O vice-primeiro ministro da Namíbia, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, negou esta manhã a especulação de que o seu país está a albergar a primeira-dama, depois de surgirem rumores de que Grace tinha fugido para a Namíbia assim que os militares tomaram as ruas de Harare. Ainda assim, o trânsito capital zimbabuana está a recuperar os níveis habituais. Na zona diplomática de Mount Pleasant desapareceram os controlos que foram montados na quarta-feira e as escolas retomaram as aulas.

O diretor da comissão da Administração Pública do Zimbabué, Mariyawanda Nzuwah, pediu a todos os funcionários para se apresentarem ao trabalho. “Espera-se que todos os funcionários se apresentem no seu local de trabalho todos os dias à hora normal para prestar serviço ao povo do Zimbabué”, manifestou Mariyawanda Nzuwah, que garantiu que todos os trabalhadores públicos – incluindo os membros do exército – vão receber o seu salário a tempo.

O jornal The Herald, ligado à União Nacional Africana do Zimbabué – Frente Patriótica, publica hoje um editorial no qual comenta que “se a intervenção militar pode fazer com que os dirigentes do partido voltem a focar a sua atenção nos que votaram neles, a ação terá feito muito” pelo partido.

Ontem, o exército colocou Robert Mugabe em prisão domiciliária e tomou o controlo da capital, Harare, numa operação visando, segundo indicou, “os criminosos” que rodeiam o mais velho dirigente em exercício do mundo, com 93 anos, e não “um golpe de Estado contra o Governo”. A tensão escalou depois de, na segunda-feira, o chefe das Forças Armadas, o general Constantino Chiwenga, ter condenado a demissão do vice-presidente do país, e avisado que o exército poderia “intervir” se não acabasse a “purga” dentro do Zanu-PF, partido no poder desde a independência do Zimbabué, em 1980.

+++ (BBG) Zimbabwe’s Military Seizes Power, Threatening Mugabe’s Rule

…The end of a horrible dictator…

(BBG) Alex Magaisa, law professor at University of Kent, discusses the actions of Constantine Chiwenga, pictured here.

Zimbabwe’s military seized power and detained 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe in a struggle over the succession of the only leader the nation has ever known.

Mugabe told President Jacob Zuma by phone that he’s being confined to his home and is fine, the South African presidency said in a statement. Zimbabwe Defense Forces spokesman Major-General Sibusiso Moyo said in a televised address that the military action wasn’t a coup and was aimed at only “targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes.”

Troops took control of the state-owned broadcaster and sealed off parliament and the central bank’s offices, while armored vehicles were stationed in the center of the capital, Harare.

The military takeover comes at a delicate moment for Zimbabwe, where an estimated 95 percent of the workforce is jobless and as many as 3 million Zimbabweans have gone into exile. With an economy that has halved in size since 2000 and relies mainly on the dollar because it has no currency of its own, a severe cash shortage is choking businesses and forces some people to sleep in the streets near banks to ensure they can make withdrawals.

Zuma called for calm and urged the military to maintain the peace, while western governments including the U.S. urged their citizens in Zimbabwe to remain indoors.

The action came a day after armed forces commander Constantine Chiwenga announced that the military would stop “those bent on hijacking the revolution.”

As several armored vehicles appeared in the capital on Tuesday, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front described Chiwenga’s statements as “treasonable” and intended to incite insurrection. Later in the day, several explosions were heard in the city.

Political Crisis

The military intervention followed a week-long political crisis sparked by Mugabe’s decision to fire his long-time ally Emmerson Mnangagwa as vice president in a move that paved the way for his wife Grace, 52, and her supporters to gain effective control over the ruling party. Nicknamed “Gucci Grace” in Zimbabwe for her extravagant lifestyle, she said on Nov. 5 that she would be prepared to succeed her husband.

People involved in the “purge” of liberation war veterans from the government will be arrested and charged, according to a senior official involved in the army action, who asked not to be named as the information isn’t public.

Despite the armed forces’s denial of a coup, the country is now under military rule, said Alex Magaisa, a Zimbabwean law lecturer who is based in the U.K. and helped design Zimbabwe’s 2013 constitution.

Man In Uniform

“When you see a man in uniform reading news on national television, you know it’s done,” he said in a text message. “There are no more questions. Authority is now in the hands of the military.”

Mnangagwa, who said he fled Zimbabwe because of threats against him and his family, had been a pillar of a military and security apparatus that helped Mugabe emerge as the nation’s leader after independence from the U.K. in 1980. He was Zimbabwe’s first national security minister.

Mnangagwa’s dismissal signaled Mugabe’s break with most of his allies who fought in the liberation war against the white-minority regime of Rhodesia, leaving his wife’s so-called Generation-40 faction of younger members of the ruling party in the ascendancy.

While Zanu-PF named Mugabe as its presidential candidate in elections next year against a possible seven-party opposition coalition, he’s appeared frail in public, sparking concern among his supporters that he wouldn’t be able to complete another five-year term.

The Southern African Development Community will closely monitor the situation in Zimbabwe and remains ready to assist where necessary to resolve the political impasse, Zuma, who’s currently head of the organization, said in a statement.

Moyo, in his statement, told members of parliament that the military’s “desire is that a dispensation is created that allows you to serve your respective constituencies according to democratic tenants.”

Elections probably won’t be held as scheduled, Rashweat Mukundu, an analyst with the Harare-based Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, said by phone.

“The military is going to determine the shape of Zimbabwean politics, although they’ve tried to say this is not a coup,” he said. “This may result in the creation of a new unity government which will involve the opposition.”

(Reuters) South Africa to grant Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity: government source

(Reuters) South Africa is planning to grant diplomatic immunity to Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe, allowing her to return to Harare and avoid prosecution for the alleged assault of a 20-year-old model, a government source said on Friday.

South African police have put border posts on “red alert” to prevent Mugabe fleeing and said she will not receive special treatment, after Gabriella Engels accused Mugabe of whipping her with an electric extension cable.

But a senior government source said there was “no way” Mugabe, 52, would be arrested because South Africa would weigh the need to seek justice against the diplomatic fallout.

“There would obviously be implications for our relations with Zimbabwe. Sadly the other countries in the region are watching us and how we are going to act,” the source said, asking not to be named.

“What is likely to happen is that she will be allowed to go back home, and then we announce that we’ve granted diplomatic immunity and wait for somebody to challenge us.”

The source acknowledged the view widely held by legal experts that Mugabe is not entitled to diplomatic immunity because she was in South Africa for medical treatment, and said her immunity might be challenged in court at a later date.

Rights group Afriforum, which is advising Engels, said it would be illegal for Pretoria to give Mugabe immunity and branded the plans a “disgrace”.

Harare has made no official comment on the saga, which erupted on Monday, and requests for comment from Zimbabwean government officials have gone unanswered.

Zimbabwe’s 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe arrived early in Pretoria for a regional southern African summit this week to help resolve his wife’s legal problems, the source said.

Grace Mugabe is expected to attend the summit as part of a “first spouses” program.

Engels said she was assaulted by Mugabe on Sunday evening as she waited with two friends in a luxury Johannesburg hotel suite to meet one of Mugabe’s adult sons.

A lawyer for Mugabe identified by Reuters refused to comment.

(BBC) Grace Mugabe back from SA despite assault claim

(BBCGrace Mugabe with her husband Robert attend a rally of his ruling ZANU (PF) in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe 29/07/2017Image copyrightREUTERSImage captionGrace Mugabe is the second wife of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe

Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe has returned home from South Africa after failing to turn herself in to police in Johannesburg to face accusations of assault, officials say.

Police in South Africa had said they had expected her to present herself for questioning.

A 20-year-old South African woman has accused Mrs Mugabe of hitting her over the head with an extension cord during a row at a hotel on Sunday evening.

Mrs Mugabe has so far not commented.

Zimbabwean government sources confirmed that Mrs Mugabe, wife of President Robert Mugabe, had returned home.

“Yes, she is back in the country. We don’t know where this issue of assault charges is coming from,” said one senior official quoted by Reuters.

Earlier, South African police said they had been negotiating with Mrs Mugabe’s lawyers to get her to hand herself in.

‘Blood everywhere’

Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said Mrs Mugabe was a “total disgrace and a complete national embarrassment”.

“She has to be brought to order and indeed she has to appreciate that she is not a law unto herself,” it added in a statement.

Confusion surrounded the case with South Africa’s Police Minister Fikile Mbalula saying at one point that Mrs Mugabe had handed herself over to police and would appear in court.

She did not appear and police sources later said she had agreed to turn herself in but failed to do so.

Gabriella Engels, a model, accused Mrs Mugabe, 52, of hitting her after finding her with the first lady’s two sons, Robert and Chatunga, in a hotel room in Sandton, a wealthy suburb north of Johannesburg.

Ms Engels released an image of a head injury online.

Photo posted by Gabriella EngelsImage copyrightGABRIELLA ENGELS
Image captionGabriella Engels says she was beaten with an extension cord

“When Grace entered I had no idea who she was,” she told South African broadcaster News24.

“She walked in with an extension cord and just started beating me with it. She flipped and just kept beating me with the plug. Over and over. I had no idea what was going on. I was surprised. I needed to crawl out of the room before I could run away.

“There was blood everywhere,” she added. “Over my arms, in my hair, everywhere.”

She registered a “case of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm”, police said.


Who is Grace Mugabe?

Grace MugabeImage copyrightAFP
  • Began affair with Robert Mugabe, 41 years her senior, while working as a typist in state house
  • Mr Mugabe later said his first wife Sally, who was terminally ill at the time, knew and approved of the relationship
  • Married Mr Mugabe, her second husband, in 1996 in an extravagant ceremony. They have three children
  • Nicknamed “Gucci Grace” by her critics who accuse her of lavish spending
  • Along with her husband, is subject to EU and US sanctions, including travel bans
  • Praised by supporters for her charitable work and founding of an orphanage
  • Received a PhD in September 2014, a month after being nominated to take over the leadership of the Zanu-PF women’s league

(Economist) Zimbabwe’s new “bond notes” are falling fast

(Economist) Robert Mugabe prints banknotes and insists they are worth as much as US dollars. No one is fooled.

HOW much is an American dollar worth? The glib answer is exactly one buck. But that is far from the case if the dollar in question is one of Zimbabwe’s “bond notes”, the world’s newest currency that is not officially a currency.

Zimbabwe adopted the US dollar as its official currency after the spendthrift regime of President Robert Mugabe printed so much of its own currency that it caused hyperinflation in 2008. The economy briefly stabilised; but old habits die hard. Last year the government again spent far more money than it raised, much of it on imports, causing scarce greenbacks to flow out of the country.

By the end of the year there were so few dollars still circulating that banks were limiting withdrawals to $50 a day, crippling the economy. In turn the central bank decided to issue a new currency, called “bond notes”, pegged to the US dollar and ostensibly backed by some $200m in actual dollars held in reserve. Shortly after the new notes were introduced many in Zimbabwe cheered their release, since they could withdraw cash from banks again and the notes seemed to be holding their value.

But two months on, the new notes, nicknamed “bollars”, are rapidly losing their value. People have discovered that they are not, in fact, convertible into real dollars. So they cannot be used to pay for imports—a real problem in a country that does not make much. Shops accepting bond notes can use them to pay local wages and suppliers or deposit them in their local bank accounts (which are still denominated in US dollars). But if they want to pay for imports to restock their shelves, they still have to queue for real dollars.

So desperate are shops for hard currency that they are offering discounts of as much as 50% to customers who hand over greenbacks. Some petrol stations now have separate pumps where the price of fuel is lower for customers who pay with hard currency cash instead of using a debit card. A number of shops in Harare have resorted to indicating two or three different prices for the same item—a US dollar cash price, a bond note price and a third price if one pays using a debit card.

Black marketeers have been quick to help out. Some are offering to convert bank balances into real dollars at premiums ranging from 5% to 30%. Among the buyers they sell to are travellers going abroad, who need to apply for permission to use their cards outside the country.

The big supermarket chains are not allowed to offer cash discounts or discriminate against customers who use bond notes or electronic cards. Instead they have simply raised their prices, particularly of imported goods. Even prices of local produce have also gone up significantly since December. A steak cut that would have sold for $8 per kilo last year now costs $13. A two-litre bottle of Zimgold, a local vegetable oil, which retailed in November for just under $3, is now marked at $3.55.

With consumer prices surging, the bond notes are proving to be exactly what many Zimbabweans feared they might be: the resurrected “Frankenstein” of their dead cousin, the Zimbabwe dollar, which burned itself out almost a decade ago. Unless the country changes tack, more economic misery looms.

(IBT) Rio Olympics 2016: Robert Mugabe orders arrest of athletes for not winning medals for Zimbabwe

(IBT) Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who has often been slammed for running a totalitarian regime among other things and almost ruined the country’s economy with massive hyper-inflation, has in a fresh show of his authoritarianism ordered that all athletes who represented the country in the 2016 Rio Olympics be arrested because they had failed to win a medal.

His reaction seems commensurate with that of another dictator, Kim Jong-un of North Korea, who had reportedly ordered all athletes who had underperformed at the Olympics in Brazil to be sent to work in coal mines. This, despite the fact that they had won seven medals, including two golds.

According to the National Transitional Authority, Mugabe told Augustine Chihuri, the commissioner general of Zimbabwe police, to arrest the entire Zimbabwean Olympic team — a total of 31 athletes, none of whom finished above the 8th position in any contest — as soon as they arrived at the Harare International Airport.

“We have wasted the country’s money on these rats we call athletes. If you are not ready to sacrifice and win even copper or brass medals as our neighbours Botswana did, then why do you go to waste our money,” he said. Copper is often used to refer to the fourth place in a competition, and brass the fifth.

Although this may seem like an overreaction to many, it may not be all that out of place, coming from a man who had once compared himself to Jesus Christ, berated Nelson Mandela for being nice to people of Caucasian origin and being regarded as an overall racist towards white people.

It may be mentioned here that Kim Jong-un, who is said to have punished several athletes of his country for under-performance, has also reportedly rewarded those who won medals. And his source of anger seems to be the contingent not winning the 17 medals he wanted them to, while neighbour and rival South Korea won 29 medals, including nine golds.

 

(BBG) Zimbabwe Starts Firing State Workers as It Runs Out of Money

(BBG)

Zimbabwe, which hasn’t been able to pay its more than 300,000 state workers on time this year, will start firing employees at its agriculture ministry as it seeks to trim a civil service where wages absorb over 80 percent of government revenue.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper on Wednesday reported that 8,252 posts at the ministry, or 43 percent of its workforce, have been abolished, citing the Public Service Commission, which oversees government departments. The government has ordered a freeze on hiring and promotions across all departments, a finance ministry document obtained by Bloomberg shows.

“We’re aware of the recommendations that were made by the Public Service Commission because we had oral evidence from the permanent secretary who told us they were going to lay off workers, but we did not know that it was going to be this huge number,” Goodluck Kwaramba, chairman of Zimbabwe’s Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Public Service and Labour, said in an interview.

Zimbabwe missed a self-imposed June deadline to pay arrears of $1.8 billion to lending institutions as it seeks to get financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and African Development Bank that can only resume when its debts are paid. The economy has halved in size since 2000, a shortage of cash has seen withdrawals limited from automated banking machines and the economy is suffering deflation due to a plunge in consumer demand.

“This retrenchment is part of the re-engagement effort with the IMF,” Prosper Chitambara, an economist at the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute, said in an interview.

Phone calls to the commission and to Deputy Agriculture Minister Paddy Zhanda weren’t answered when Bloomberg sought comment Wednesday. Questions e-mailed to the commission weren’t immediately responded to.