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What happens when Mugabe dies?

By Shingi Chimwaza

Whilst I stand to be ridiculed by dare discussing an eventuality, that a lot of hangers-on to the aged Zimbabwean leader, wish would never become a reality, all the same, some things still need to be said.

Commander in Sleep: President Robert Mugabe
Commander in Sleep: President Robert Mugabe

The post-Mugabe era is like a time bomb that Mugabe himself has been all this while strapping round himself like a suicide bomber on a mission to punish people for a reason he himself is not sure of its justification.

The point according to the topic of this discussion however is that God has always proved that all men are mortals and no matter how many doctors they employ in their rank and file, he created the human body with such precision that as you get around certain figures in age, it will be stupid for you and the people around to find it taboo to discuss your imminent demise.

The president of the Republic of Zimbabwe is behaving like a reckless father who creates a great deal of discord and mistrust in his household but still vows on intending to die without writing a will. How stupid and selfish!

It is not a secret that politics in Zimbabwe now revolves around the succession issue in ZANU PF to the extent that it may not be deemed far fetched to suggest that even the destabilization in the main opposition party MDC-T is a result of the fateful process.

I even dare push my argument further on the basis of allegations that the succession debacle in the MDC-T is to a certain extent controlled by one faction in the former liberation party as they wish to remain with an opposition that will be more willing to be swallowed.

In essence we are talking of an opposition that will be corruptible such that it may be willing to turn a blind eye and become more willing to start on a fresh page and ignore the current looting and corruption that has gained the country such notoriety.

As a country we need to be very afraid since the factions in ZANU PF and MDC T are fertile breeding grounds for a violent scramble for power in the event of a sudden exit of Zim 1 through God’s will as my discussion suggests.

What makes the impending eventuality (the demise of Zim 1) even more frightening is the long shadow of the secret services and the military in the proxy wars in both parties leaving those of us privileged with sharp eyes, to see where the balance of power lies.

So we ask our selves, does this mean if the factional wars are allowed to continue until we wake up one morning to the bad news, the country may fall in the hands of ZIM 2?

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This is not a wild imagination! If Mugabe is to die, leaving his party as divided as it is today, chaos may prevail thus making a military takeover imminent. If we are to focus on ZANU PF and the way the Mnangagwa and Mujuru factions are willing to destroy each other in the literal sense in order to prop up their ‘horse’ we have to be very afraid.

The coming ZANU PF elective congress also does not guarantee us, as a country that the succession issue in the revolutionary party will be solved and allow the country to move on with much certainty. If one is to take a closer look at the proxy wars in the provinces, you then realize how the grassroots come in the mix and how this is a recipe for disaster!

You then cross the political divide and look at the MDC T and those in it, who have shown intentions to cooperate with ZANU PF and take a closer look at which faction they seem to be warming up to.

There is a faction in ZANU PF that despite having equally looted, they have lost dear ones in such spectacular fashion thus falling into the intersection of the two warring MDC T factions, and thus intentionally or unintentionally covertly work with them. This is the Mujuru faction, and the opposition appear to be more willing to have Joyce Mujuru takeover from Mugabe and set the ground for free elections.

The above scenario becomes so complicated, not only for the simple minded, but even to those of us who have been watching events closely because it leaves the other ZANU PF faction (the crocodile’s) with no option but to cooperate with ZIM2 and become the civilian face of an imminent military dictatorship that may strip all the “gains” of independence left.

It is not a secret that this is the faction largely credited with the electoral victory that left some ZANU PF candidates more alarmed than happy with their own victory.

The whole population is now taking a serious interest in the succession battle in ZANU PF, and in the process temporarily ignoring their respective political inclination. This is a result of a realization that solving the succession issue in ZANU PF, especially with a Mujuru victory amounts to a complete different kind of politics in the post –Mugabe era whilst a Mnangagwa win would condemn the country to a kind of life they have not even experienced yet.

It is also important to keep in mind that the mining industry has been personalized by more people in the faction that cooperates with the military and my prayer is that, these minerals may not become a cause for a violent conflict, with the masses being pushed to the edge and left with no option but demand survival violently in a do or die fashion.

My fear is justified by the fact that Mujuru has a large grassroots support base comparable to that enjoyed by Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC, therefore if Mnangagwa is to come to power courtesy of a Zim2 propping, a combined Tsvangirai and Mujuru grassroots support base may consider a confrontation with the new oppressor.

I belong to a school of thought that subscribes to non-violent conflict and Morgan Tsvangirai and his party have always earned my sympathy because of their triumph in overcoming temptation to pick the gun especially when their support was at its peak like in the early 2000’s.

I also subscribe to the notion of tolerance and unity that have always been preached by Solomon Mujuru and his wife. I remember at one rally Solomon Mujuru urged ZANU PF supporters to desist from saying ‘Pasi na Tsvangirai (Down with Tsvangirai), because according to him there was no reason to wish him dead.

I however become very afraid each time I imagine a Mnangagwa presidency and an imminent resistance that the population of Zimbabwe may put against it. Most times people are even tempted to exonerate Mugabe of many evil deeds but pile all of them on the crocodile and some elements in the junta. This illustrates how soiled the crocodile and his team is in ordinary Zimbabweans’ eyes!

It is not a secret that the crocodile is not blessed with much grassroots support, but has an overwhelming support from the junta, which would make his presidency even more illegitimate. As a people we now know that an illegitimate presidency always repels investors and has less genuine friendships in the family of nations.

Whilst I remain greatly opposed to ZANU PF’s culture of corruption and impunity, like many other Zimbabweans it remains my prayer that the moderates in that party may win the party presidency and pave way for a peaceful Zimbabwe in which a ZANU PF victory may be embraced by the international community and an opposition victory also accepted at home by the former liberators.

Shingi Chimwaza is from the Fletcher Summer Institute Alumni Network-A group under the International Center For Non-Violent Conflict. He writes in his own capacity