The Robert Mugabe era in Zimbabwe has ended. At least, that’s the word from Jacob Mudenda, the speaker of the country’s parliament, who had just begun the process of impeaching the 37-year dictator in the midst of a military coup. But is it on the level?
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) November 21, 2017
Zimbabwe’s Parliament has erupted in cheers as the speaker announces the resignation of President Robert Mugabe.
The speaker stopped impeachment proceedings to say they had received a letter from Mugabe with the resignation “with immediate effect.”
It is an extraordinary end for the world’s oldest head of state after 37 years in power.
Pardon me for a moment of skepticism, but this seems mightily convenient for Mudenda and the Zanu-PF. Mugabe had enough personal authority left that both the military and Mugabe’s party offered him a number of options for relinquishing power, and even gave him an opportunity to leave custody for a personal appearance over the weekend. Just last night, the military offered Mugabe a “roadmap” for relinquishing power that would have left Mugabe with some maneuvering room over the next few days.
Mugabe rejected that, leading to the effort this morning to impeach him, a move that the military wanted to avoid. Now, suddenly, Mugabe has decided to throw in the towel with no strings attached? It’s possible, but …
This was the best possible outcome left of the alternatives on the table for the military and Mugabe’s Zanu-PF. They both needed a peaceful transition of power to Emmerson Mnangagwa to avoid precipitating a broader revolt. And voilà, they got it:
BREAKING: Zimbabwe ruling party official: Recently fired VP will take over as leader within 48 hours.
— The Associated Press (@AP) November 21, 2017
Yeah … that’s pretty convenient. Who’s to say that Mudenda and the Zanu-PF leadership didn’t write the letter themselves and announce it as genuine? That would make it a fait accompli that Mugabe has little opportunity to deny while he’s in military custody. If that’s the case, the military will keep Mugabe bottled up until Emmerson Mnangagwa gets back to Harare:
A Zimbabwe ruling party official tells The Associated Press that recently fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa will take over as the country’s leader within 48 hours after President Robert Mugabe resigned.
Ruling party chief whip Lovemore Matuke says Mnangagwa, who fled the country after his firing, “is not far from here.”
Mnangagwa had exiled himself to South Africa after Mugabe’s wife Grace threatened to have him killed as Mugabe deposed his VP in her favor. Once he officially takes over the reins of power, Mugabe can complain all he wants, but it will be far too late for him to reverse the situation. No one wants to deal with the reaction in the streets just to put a senile 93-year-old dictator and his bloodthirsty wife back in power.
That’s not to say that Mnangagwa will be much of an improvement. He served for years as Mugabe’s hatchet man until Grace got ambitious and pushed him out. It’s likely that he’ll continue most of the same policies that transformed Zimbabwe into a wealthy African success story into an impoverished land of runaway inflation. He’ll also likely have little forgiveness for Grace Mugabe, who’d better find a safe haven as far away from Zimbabwe — and the vast majority of Zimbabweans — as she can get.
For the moment, though … who cares about any of that? Mugabe’s out of power, and that’s enough for Zimbabweans. For the moment.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 21, 2017