President Mugabe advised to quit power now
President Robert Mugabe, who is facing growing resistance from Zimbabweans to his 36 years in power, has once again been advised to quit high office and appoint a successor, to avoid plunging the country into total chaos.
Human Rights Watch senior researcher for southern Africa, Dewa Mavhinga, warned in an interview with the Daily News yesterday that the country could soon be plunged into anarchy, as there was no end in sight to Zanu-PF’s ugly and seemingly unstoppable factional and succession wars.
“Mugabe made the mistake of leaving the succession issue until too late. So, now he is damned if he does and damned if he does not. Zanu-PF is unlikely to come out of the succession issue a single party. A split is inevitable, and that is what Mugabe would want to avoid.
“At this point I do not see a way out for President Mugabe except to bite the bullet and name a successor and step down. Failing that the ongoing factional fights will continue to tear the party and the country apart,” he said.
“There could also be a faction in Zanu-PF that is stocking the fires of protests in order to find excuses to blame the leadership of the security forces for the chaos and get Mugabe to fire them, and therefore pave way for one faction to take over. But whichever way one looks at this, it is the endgame.
“The only way out, which Mugabe may be forced by circumstances to consider, would be to facilitate a process for a fresh governing mandate from the people of Zimbabwe, unless the opposition agrees to some kind of second government of national unity,” Mavhinga added.
With Zanu-PF fast being devoured by its deadly factionalism, fuelled by Mugabe’s failure to manage his succession, his long-time aide, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was initially believed to be a shoo-in to succeed the nonagenarian, is under fire from a party faction known by the moniker Generation 40, which is strongly opposed to his mooted presidential ambitions.
Mnangagwa’s backers, who include disaffected war veterans, argue that the man nicknamed Ngwena (crocodile) remains the most senior party official who should succeed Mugabe in the event that the nonagenarian steps down or is forced out by natural circumstances.
The jockeying and fighting is so bad that it is affecting government business, as potential investors worriedly remain on the sidelines – discouraged by the deadly ructions which have seen policy discord become the order of the day in government.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe is in the middle of an economic crisis of huge proportions which has sparked riots and crippling strikes, as fed up citizens bring their pressure to bear on Mugabe and Zanu-PF.
Just over a week ago, angry traders, both in Zimbabwe and South Africa, staged a four-hour demonstration in the border town of Beitbridge over a government import ban on South African-sourced basic goods.
The protests later turned riotous, leading to the destruction of property worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as the arrest of 71 people.
And on Monday last week, deadly riots broke out in Harare as a strike by commuter omnibuses over police roadblocks turned violent.
Civil servants – including teachers, nurses and doctors – also staged their own strike last week over delayed salaries, before ordinary Zimbabweans heeded calls to stayaway from work in a crippling general strike dubbed Shutdown Zimbabwe.
Mavhinga said it was clear that Mugabe and his government had an “insurmountable task” of addressing people’s concerns, as the economy was accelerating towards the abyss.
“Chances that Mugabe and his party will solve this economic and cash crisis are low because the country is broke, and I do not see countries like the UK and the US bailing Zimbabwe out in the absence of serious political and economic reforms that would attract foreign investment,” he told the Daily News.
Last week, finance minister Patrick Chinamasa and central bank governor John Mangudya were in Europe trying to woo investors to the country.