Zimbabwe Witnessing an Elite Transition as Economic Meltdown Looms

Photo by SuSanA Secretariat | CC BY 2.0


The palace coup, Mugabe’s demise and ‘nightmare’ versus ‘national unity’ scenarios

In Harare, Bulawayo and smaller Zimbabwean cities, hundreds of thousands of citizens joyfully took to the streets on Saturday, November 18, approving a Zimbabwe Defence Force (ZDF) military semi-coup that resolves a long-simmering faction fight within the ruling party and ends the extraordinary career of Robert Mugabe at the age of 93.

Initially refusing to resign, his rambling speech the following evening revealed a man either out of touch with reality, or attempting to compel from his enemies a full-fledged coup, or – as CNN speculated – delaying to ensure legal immunity and protection of his property from confiscation. Still, he faces a parliamentary impeachment process on November 21.

After more than 37 years in power in the Southern African country he led to liberation in 1980, Mugabe is being replaced by his long-standing Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) comrade, Emmerson Mnangagwa (aged 75). On Sunday at Zanu-PF’s emergency central committee meeting, Mnangagwa was made president. To ease his departure, Mugabe might be offered exile in South Africa where his family and cronies also possess abundant luxury real estate, such as a seaside mansion near Durban’s airport.

But concerns immediately arise that celebration of the coup and at least momentary popular adoration of the army will relegitimise…

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