Last week marked the first anniversary of the deposing of former President Robert Mugabe by the military putting him and his wife Grace under house arrest, and then the ZANU-PF MPs resolving to impeach him. There was no celebration as the country struggled with economic collapse, disappointment and ongoing political paralysis.
The Commission inquiring into the deadly election-related violence on August 1 pursued its task of finding out who was responsible, but so far it appears unlikely to come up with answers that will satisfy the public. Yet doing so will be a crucial step in establishing legitimacy for the government, and thus enabling economic recovery.
The international community is showing concern at the situation in Zimbabwe, but holding back from any concerted economic rescue plan. The Indian government provided a welcome $2.2 million package of urgently-needed medicines, continuing the pattern of drip-feed support to the comatose economy.
All election observer reports are now on the table and these also provide the Mnangagwa government an opportunity to re-build international legitimacy by implementing their sensible recommendations.
Auditor-General Mildred Chiri is also publishing reports on parastatals which expose gross corruption, and thus provides another avenue for rebuilding legitimacy for the government, if decisive corrective action is taken.
Zimbabwe needs to clear about $2 billion in arrears to the World Bank and African Development Bank. This is probably a task that could be rapidly achieved if the Mugabe’s ill-gotten gains are recovered for the people – another challenge for President Mnangagwa.
The rumour-mill was running hot that there would be a coup against Mnangagwa on November 14, allegedly delivered by Vice-President Chiwenga. While absolutely nothing happened, that this kind of rumour could run shows the fragility of the new regime, which is based on the ongoing presence of Mugabe and his wife Grace, and the assertion by Nelson Chamisa that he is the legitimate President of Zimbabwe. Opposition dynamics show that Chamisa is facing growing resistance to his autocratic practices, and significant figures do not accept that he was cheated in the election on the scale he claimed.
Zimbabwe Information Centre, Australia
November 20, 2018