Zimbabwe: Preparing for a post-Mugabe future

“This is a great victory for the people of Zimbabwe,” said the Zimbabwe Independent in an editorial. “A dark cloud has been lifted from the land.” Everyone thought that President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the country since independence in 1980, was invincible. Yet he has conceded that he did not win re-election outright last week, and has agreed to stand in a runoff against challenger Morgan Tsvangirai. It is just a chink in Mugabe’s armor—but for someone who has held on to power only “by coercion and electoral manipulation,” any sign of weakness can prove fatal. Mugabe is sure to lose the runoff. He was unable to manipulate the first-round vote because too many people rose up in rejection of his disastrous economic policies, which have ruined this once-prosperous land. In the past, the people believed him when he claimed that our country was a victim of “bullying Western powers.” Now, though, the people “regard the international community as partners and see its own rulers as political thugs abusing state resources.”

Don’t celebrate just yet, said Dumisani Muyela in South Africa’s Business Day. Mugabe won’t give up without an ugly, dirty fight. His Zanu (PF) party, which ran the country for decades, lost control of the parliament in the recent elections, and its members fear retribution if they lose control of the presidency, too. At a Zanu politburo meeting to plan the runoff campaign, witnesses reported “fascist utterances and belligerent rhetoric.” Elections in Zimbabwe under Mugabe “have a history of violence, intimidation, and ballot fraud.” The first round of the presidential election was a rare and surprising exception, but the second round will likely revert to form.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us