Emmerson Mnangagwa has been sworn in as the President of Zimbabwe, following Robert Mugabe’s on-off resignation. In his rambling inauguration speech Mnangagwa was keen to heap praise on his “father” and “mentor” which added to the heap of slogans he used in Mugabe’s praise — an attempt to rehabilitate his former boss.
Zanu-PF and the new president are very clear that that Mugabe’s dismissal should not be seen as admitting that there is anything structurally wrong in the country, or inherently bad in the hucksterish way Zanu-PF has controlled Zimbabwean politics in the last thirty years. It would have been very difficult to find someone less representative of the tyranny of the previous decades than Emmerson Mnanagwa. This man was head of the notoriously ruthless Central Intelligence Organisation which continues to rig elections, beat-up and kill political dissidents and intimidate voters. He also led the Gukurahundi massacres during the 1980s in which tens of thousands of Zimbabweans were murdered for disagreeing with Zanu-PF. This, among other brutal acts earned him the nickname “crocodile”.
This new administration means more of the same. It looks likely that those in the armed forces who were central to the coup will be rewarded handsomely. At Zanu-PF’s conference later in the month it is almost certain that General Constantino Chiwenga, the leader of the Zimbabwean Defence Forces whose troops ignited the events leading to Mugabe’s resignation will be anointed as Vice-President. It’s likely that foreign governments will use the superficial appearance of change at the top to open up discussions on trade, and rush to exploit the country’s resources and workforce.
This is especially true of Chinese capitalists who started discussions with coup participants before the fact and who have a keen eye on Zimbabwe’s rich, but horrendously corrupt and mismanaged, mining industry.