Africa – After 37 years, Zimbabwe might be ready for a new leader?

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Most of you must have heard about some political tension in Zimbabwe, let us help you get up to speed. Well, for starters Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa. Harare is the capital.

Robert Mugabe has been the leader (prime minister and then president) for the last 37 years. Yes, that’s a long time! He is currently 93 years old. This also makes him the world’s oldest leader.

Brief Background:

Zimbabwe was known as Rhodesia. It was ruled by the British Crown. Mugabe and other war veterans fought against the colonists for the freedom of their people.

After 14 years of rebellion, Zimbabwe won independence from the United Kingdom in 1980. Mugabe was chosen as the man to guide the newly named and independent Zimbabwe to democracy. 

While Mugabe is praised as a revolutionary hero he is also called one of  the ruthless tyrants of modern times. During his 37 year rule, he changed Zimbabwe from the breadbasket of  Africa to a country in chaos. 

Within seven years he made himself head of state. He used violence and corruption to silence his political opponents and crush any form of challenge or protest. His dirty work was carried out by “war heroes” that were loyal to his regime.

Zimbabwe was exporting wheat, tobacco, and corn to the rest of Africa and beyond. Mugabe attacked and murdered white farmers and confiscated their fertile farmlands under the pretext that it was for the black people. This saw agriculture output fall dramatically and directly led to the downfall of the economy. People were reduced to poverty and food shortage called severe starvation.

The international community did take notice of these extreme activities and imposed sanctions. They were against the serious violations of human rights, rigged elections and restrictions on the media. What are sanctions? Countries impose sanctions or punishments on other countries to put pressure on them to change something. e.g. Visa ban for their citizens and politicians, export ban on their products, sports ban on their teams, etc.

The corrupt Zimbabwe government printed billions of dollars to fund military campaigns and pay corrupt officials. The economy was hit with hyper inflation. The price of every day goods and services sky-rocketed. People couldn’t afford bread – one loaf of bread cost millions of Zimbabwe dollars. The people of Zimbabwe had become ‘starving billionaires!’ 

During the 2008 elections, Mugabe lost to Morgan Tsvangira. Mugabe’s supporters used violence to silence his opponent. Tsvangirai had to pull out of the elections as many of his supporters were attacked. Again in 2016, the nation saw large protests against Mugabe but he did not budge.

Certain events took place this last week that might indicate that his time in power may be over. Lets take a look:


November 6, 2017: Mugabe fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa saying he was disloyal. The vice president harboured ambitions to become the country’s next leader in the upcoming elections. It is believed Mugabe fired his Vice President to put his wife, Grace, in a position to take over the nation after him.


Zimbabwe’s sacked vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa fled to South Africa

November 8, 2017: Vice President Mnangagwa promised to get justice. He has many supporters in the military.

 

 

 

 


Zimbabwean military vehicles took over central areas of Harare AFP

November 15, 2017: Military took control of Zimbabwe. Tanks and soldiers were seen in the streets of Harare. President Mugabe and his family were put under house arrest.

 

 

 

 


Zimbabwe Major General Sibusiso Moyo reading a statement.  AFP/Getty Images

Soldiers took over a TV station called ZBC and Major General Sibusiso Moyo delivered a message. They said that the military was in the process of apprehending criminals who were “causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice.”

 

 


Mugabe in talks about his future, in this image tweeted by the editor of Zimbabwe’s Herald.

November 16, 2017: Ruling party wants Mugabe and wife to step down. Those involved in the military take over are largely longtime allies (friends) of the President. They have been in a years-long bitter dispute over who will one day replace him. The officials were reportedly discussing the implementation of a transitional government.


Robert Mugabe arrives to preside over a student graduation ceremony CREDIT: AP

November 17, 2017: Mugabe resurfaced in public at a university graduation ceremony, an appearance believed to convey the message that there was no substance to rumors of government change. Mugabe reportedly was refusing to cooperate with proposed plans to peacefully remove him from power.

 


People cheer a passing Defense Force military vehicle in Harare. AFP/Getty Images

November 18, 2017: Protests in the streets. ‘Leave Zimbabwe now,’ thousands of protesters call for Robert Mugabe to go.

 

 

 

 


November 19, Zimbabwe’s ruling is drafting a motion to fire their leader on Sunday if he doesn’t quit

 


Could Mugabe take control again in the future, or will a new leader take the top spot in the nation? Mugabe once infamously claimed that “only God” could remove him from office. No one knows for sure what will happen in Zimbabwe.

 

 

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