The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 1st December 2017

Zimbabwe calm

by our African Affairs correspondent

ZIMBABWE remains calm after the forced retirement of Robert Mugabe, the liberation leader who had ruled the country for 37 years until his overthrow by army chiefs in support of his former deputy two weeks ago. Emmerson Mnangagwa has been sworn in as the new president of Zimbabwe after a tumultuous month that started with his summary dismissal as deputy president on charges of disloyalty led by supporters of Mugabe’s much younger wife and her “Generation 40” faction within the ruling ZANU-PF party.

It ended with Robert Mugabe’s arrest and the total defeat of Grace Mugabe and her followers by the Zimbabwean army and Mnangagwa’s own supporters within ZANU-PF and across the country.

Before Grace came on the scene Mnangagwa, a veteran of the war of independence and once one of Mugabe’s staunchest comrades, was generally regarded as Mugabe’s natural successor. Grace, Mugabe’s former secretary and 40-odd years younger than the old Zimbabwean leader, had other ideas, and many believe that Mnangagwa’s sacking was done to clear the path for her own succession. She is now with her husband but some of her faction leaders remain in custody on corruption charges. The new president has now dissolved Robert Mugabe’s old cabinet to pave the way for the elevation of his own supporters within the ruling ZANU-PF party.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, was sworn in as the third president of Zimbabwe on Friday 24th November following the army intervention that led to Mugabe’s arrest and the detention of others including former finance minister Ignatius Chombo on graft and corruption charges. But Robert Mugabe has now been released from house arrest and Mnangagwa has granted a three-month amnesty for individuals and companies to surrender public funds illegally stashed abroad.

Meanwhile, Robert Mugabe has been allowed to retire to his farm with the honours due to the 93-year old veteran who led the movement against British imperialism and white settler rule that ended in victory with the establishment of the Republic of Zimbabwe in 1980.

The new leader has made his old chief’s birthday a public holiday and henceforth 21st February will be known as Robert Mugabe National Youth Day. Mugabe has also been given a retirement package worth $10 million that includes a lump sum, full immunity and permission to retain some of his assets. He will still be paid his full salary, in line with constitution, and Grace will reportedly receive half his pay after his death.

His nephew, Leo Mugabe, who is on the Central Committee of ZANU-PF, refused to discuss the details of his uncle’s retirement package. But he said: “He is actually looking forward to his new life — farming and staying at the rural home. He has taken it well,” adding that Grace Mugabe was now concentrating on plans to build a university in his honour.

“I like the spirit she has, she is with him all the time,” Leo said. “She is an amazing person. She wants to continue planning the Robert Mugabe University so that they have something to do.”

What’s next nobody knows. The new president says he values democracy, tolerance and the rule of law, and that he will tackle corruption. Mnangagwa has promised to hold “free and fair” elections next year, and he’s called for direct foreign investment to create new jobs and stimulate the economy. “All foreign investment will be safe in Zimbabwe,” Mnangagwa said. President Mnangagwa also promised to compensate the white commercial farmers turfed out of their estates during to the Mugabe era to give land to liberation war veterans and poor blacks, but significantly he added that the land reform was not reversible.