For some Zimbabweans living in South Africa, concerns about the uncertain economic and political future of their home country have made the imminent axing of its embattled head of state a shallow victory.
While the Zimbabwean Communist Party has said it would use this transition as an opportunity to call for economic reform, some Zimbabwean academics living in South Africa have expressed concern that the euphoria that followed ruling party Zanu-PF’s firing of President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace would not undo the rot in the economy and state institutions.
Political analyst Bongani Nyathi said he was not buying Zanu-PF’s new hero status and its dealings with the Zimbabwe Defence Force.
“My understanding is that as Zimbabweans, we have nothing to celebrate as this is the continuation of the Zanu-PF junta in another guise. The departure of Mugabe, without the total uprooting of Mugabeism and with institutions of Zanu-PF oppression still in place, is a superficial victory. Ominous is the involvement of the army in civilian politics, continued arbitrary incarceration of political opponents from the G40 and the imposition of the army puppets on Zanu-PF and the people.”
Although the anticipated exodus of Mugabe was deemed long overdue, Nyathi warned that Zimabweans should not be blinded by the euphoria of change and neglect the duty to demand that the army returns the power to a democratically elected government.
“The dismantling of Mugabe’s institutions of oppression will be crucial, otherwise we are giving another dictator a blank cheque to continue oppressing the people with the very same institutions. Cooperation between the people and the army should be only a way to entrench democracy in Zimbabwe, not to enable the army to usurp power on behalf of a Zanu-PF faction or its leaders to evade liability in certain cases were they’re implicated in corruption and human rights abuses.”
Another analyst, Njabulo Ncube, was especially wary of the involvement of the military and what it meant for the future of democracy in Zimbabwe, given the country’s political power dynamics.
“The intervention of the military element, whereas it is celebrated in some quarters, does not, in my view, auger well for our country.
I say if there is to be any regime change in Zimbabwe, then it has to materialise through the ballot rather than the barrel of a gun.
“I would urge that the current debacle be resolved through rigorous engagement and consultation between and among various political establishments. The popular uprising is the best way to go under the current circumstances, if the present regime is to be dislodged from power.”
But the Zimbabwean Communist Party’s secretary-general, Ngqabutho Mabhena, a South African resident, said despite the involvement of the military, the impeachment process would be done by the book and would ultimately pave the way for urgent economic reform.
“The intervention of the military opens up opportunities for economic reform. As the ZCP, we have called for a national economic dialogue with the new administration in order to find ways of reorganising our economy, rebuilding industries and inviting international organisations for their input,” said Mabhena.
“The biggest enemy of ZanuPF at the moment is the economy.”