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confidentially speaking

The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 12th September 2019

Mugabe's last battle

Blue Lines

President Emmerson Mnangagwa's hopes that the death of independence leader Robert Mugabe would lead to a helpful outbreak of nationalistic fervour are proving forlorn.  Mnangagwa implored Zimbabweans 'to show your love of the great leader who has left us.'  Instead, many in Harare and Bulawayo are drawing comparisons between the two men that are highly unfavourable to Mnangagwa. The depth of economic chaos now, with another imploding national currency, continuing corruption and political repression has succeeded in making some nostalgic for the early Mugabe years.

Everyone remembers that the politicians and military officers now extolling the revolutionary virtues of Mugabe's rule were the same clique who plotted his overthrow two years ago. They will also recall how the cheerleaders for Mnangagwa and his deputy, General Constantino Chiwenga, orchestrated mass demonstrations in Harare and Bulawayo in support of the putsch that ousted Mugabe.

Then, the opposition parties were sucked along in the slipstream, nurturing hopes that they would benefit from the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front's own version of regime change. But it was just musical chairs for the ruling party's central committee. With Mugabe's final exit and the economy in free-fall, the music has stopped again. But this time can the opposition, which is organising a protest rally on the day of the state funeral, seize its moment?