Zimbabwe’s military has detained the country’s 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace Mugabe, and taken control of the streets of the capital and the main television station. The next step – apparently, a legitimate-looking transfer of power to someone of the army’s choosing – may prove less easy.
CrisisWatch is a monthly early warning bulletin designed to provide a regular update on the state of the most significant situations of conflict around the world.
Zimbabwe has not escaped its chronic crisis. Infighting over who will succeed the ailing 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe is stifling efforts to tackle insolvency, low rule of law, rampant unemployment and food insecurity. Zimbabwe needs international help to recover, but what it needs most is a leadership willing to act on much-needed reforms.
Zimbabwe’s growing instability is exacerbated by dire economic decline, endemic governance failures, and tensions over ruling party succession; without major political and economic reforms, the country could slide into being a failed state.
Madagascar’s recent elections marked an ostensible return to democracy, but unless the new government works hard to implement meaningful political, economic and social reforms, the prospect of further crisis is just a matter of time.
A return to protracted political crisis, and possibly extensive violence, is likely as Zimbabwe holds elections on 31 July. conditions for a free and fair vote do not exist.
The pervasive fear of violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe’s 2013 elections contradicts political leaders’ rhetorical commitments to peace, and raises concerns that the country may not be ready to go to the polls.
To preserve Southern Africa’s relative peace in the face of rising challenges and threats, Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states must collectively reinforce its peace and security architecture.
What the [President's speech] provides for [Zimbabwe's] generals is immediate legal cover because Mugabe made it very clear that this was not a coup, and this was the concern of many in the security establishment.
The fact that [Zimbabwe's President Mugabe] thinks he still has a role to play is remarkable. He is not used to being tempered or being constrained by others.
[Zimbabwe's President] Mugabe's non resignation speech. Masterpiece or mayhem? It's either choreographed or completely out of control.
[Zimbabwe's new leader Emmerson Mnangagwa] is smart and skillful, but will he be a panacea for Zimbabwe's problems? Will he bring good governance and economic management?
[The march through Zimbabwe’s cities calling for President Mugabe's resignation] suggests that ordinary Zimbabweans want an alternative to the centralising, controlling narrative.
It is clearly a coup d’état, but typical of Zimbabwe, the military is trying to put a veneer of legality on the process. It's part of the theatre that Zimbabwe is so good at, to try to make things look democratic.
The ruling ZANU-PF is exploiting the many weaknesses of Zimbabwe’s electoral system to outpace the country’s divided opposition. Yet without a real change of policy, the country seems doomed to steeper decline.
Originally published in Zimbabwe Independent
Political infighting and a collapsed economy offer little light at the end of tunnel for the majority of Zimbabweans.
Originally published in Independent Online (South Africa)