Jump to navigation

Published 21st November 2003

Vol 44 No 23


Zimbabwe

Marching to Masvingo

President Mugabe's exit plans are prompting unrest ahead of the ZANU-PF party congress

History is catching up with President Robert Gabriel Mugabe as he prepares for the party congress in Masvingo next month. Even political allies concede that Mugabe is well into extra time and must use the congress to set out his exit plan. First, he must find reliable candidates for two key posts: the vice-presidency of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) to replace Simon Vengesayi Muzenda, who died on 20 September, and a Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Force to replace 60-year-old General Vitalis Zvinavashe, who retired this month. The appointments are not entirely in Mugabe's gift but unfriendly occupants could sabotage his efforts to secure legal protection and an acceptable successor in State House. Opposition optimists are convinced that Mugabe will use ZANU-PF's congress in Masvingo to announce his retirement. Yet that would leave a lame-duck leader presiding over the world's fastest shrinking economy: not an appealing prospect for Mugabe and his shrewd political planners. Sending the riot police to break up anti-government and anti-poverty protests was vintage Mugabe, as was the arrest and brutalisation of more than 100 demonstrators. There is no sign that Mugabe is tiring of wielding the rungu (big stick, as brandished by chiefs). If Mugabe does decide to cut and run at Masvingo, he looks unprepared for the aftermath. As soon as he lost presidential immunity, as military commander-in-chief Mugabe would face legal suits holding him responsible for torture ­ as well as for his alleged role in commissioning the Operation Gukurahundi massacres by the Fifth Brigade in Matebeleland in the early 1983.


Holding the cash

The President has promised not to stand for re-election: don't hold your breath

Big questions are meant to be settled when the ruling Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA) holds its congress in Luanda on 6-10 December (AC Vol 44 No 8)....


Luanda's money-go-round

Mystery surrounds the 'social bonus fund' set up from proceeds of the oil licence payments from blocks 31-34. Touted as proof that big oil investors could nudge Angola's government...


No melting pot

Marginalised minorities campaign for a German-style federal system of government

Namibia's delicate inter-ethnic balance, carefully maintained since Independence in 1990 by President Sam Nujoma, is the hot political topic. After much uncertainty, Nujoma will re...


BEE is for business

President Mbeki shifts responsibility for black empowerment to the business sector

Can government plans for black empowerment and the transfer of equity to black-owned businesses work in tandem with its market economic strategy? That is the question that foreign ...



Pointers

Don't RSVP

The Commonwealth, some say, is held together by its rows over Southern Africa. The latest, a rumoured move against giving New Zealand's Don McKinnon a second term as Secretary Gene...


Surrender!

Rwandan intelligence scores full marks for orchestrating the surrender of Hutu rebel leader Paul Rwarakabije on 16 November and wrongfooting both the United Nations and President J...


Do not pass go

The gaoling of three senior officials from the Elf oil company is unlikely to be the final act in the drama that has been unfolding since Paris judge Eva Joly launched her investig...