A fter a coup that wasn’t really a coup and much speculation about “will he or won’t he”, it appears that the end of an era is upon us as the Zimbabwe Defence Force issued an ultimatum to President Robert Mugabe to step down by noon today.
This would effectively close the chapter on the longest rule in Africa – more than 37 years – and see the ousting of a man who has attracted much controversy during his prolonged dictatorial reign.
The governing Zanu-PF party yesterday sacked Mugabe, his wife, Grace, and cabinet ministers Jonathan Moyo and Saviour Kasukuwere – making it clear this is a one-way street for the liberation leader-turned-despot. The party also moved to reinstate Emmerson Mnangagwa as its new leader – after he was sacked by Mugabe as Zimbabwe’s vice president.
So a change of guard is imminent and most Zimbabweans are ecstatic to see the back of Mugabe and his ambitious wife, whose aggressive political play is said to have accelerated her husband’s fall.
But some sober voices have questioned where a Mnangagwa presidency might lead the country. Relatively little is known about “the Crocodile”, other than that he is a long time Zanu-PF stalwart, with possibly very good ties to the military and intelligence.
He’s been criticised for helping to enable the tyranny of Mugabe’s near four-decade reign – so is he any better? His takeover of power was a move that – first and foremost – ensured his arch rival, Grace Mugabe, is unseated once and for all. But was it done for the good of the people?
The cynical among us would point out this was little more than a factional coup . The same party is in charge, but there are different faces at the trough. So, is this really any different? Time will tell.