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Zimbabwe: what results four years after the coup?


Four years after the famous speech of the late General Sibusiso Moyo, author of a coup in Zimbabwe, his ally, President Emmerson Mnangagwa is keeping a low profile on the international scene. What is his record?

“Hello, Zimbabwe. The situation in our country has become unacceptable. This is a compulsory coup ”. On November 15, 2017, Sibusiso Moyo, from the top of a tank and through a megaphone, in the streets of Harare, launched into a historic speech.

In the media and on the web, the coup in Zimbabwe was called a "soft" coup. On social networks, the hashtag #NotACoup had flourished. For many young people, the dictator Robert Mugabe seemed irremovable at the time, after three decades in power. It took only a week, after the sacking and forced exile of the popular Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, for the army to overthrow Mugabe.

A coup that caught everyone by surprise. So much so that, on November 14, when the army had invaded the capital Harare, it was not until South African President Jacob Zuma himself called the putschists and confirmed that a coup was underway. In the streets of the capital, the inhabitants, accustomed to the military presence, lived their life as if nothing had happened.

A deposed dictator ... gently

The uprising of the army, traditionally loyal to President Mugabe, took place as tensions within the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party grew. . For months, the party's two rising stars, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and First Lady Grace Mugabe, had been vying for the succession of Mugabe, then 93. For Zimbabweans, Mnangagwa, Mugabe's former ally, was the legitimate dolphin, while Grace Mugabe was preferred to be given an unpopular nickname: “Disgrace”.

After the arrest of Robert Mugabe, the leaders of the military junta, Constantino Chiwenga and Sibusiso Moyo, asked him to resign. What the old president refused, despite his abandonment by the party and the army. On November 19, ZANU-PF removed Mugabe as party leader. And on November 21, 2017, an extraordinary session of Parliament meets to accuse the deposed president of abuses. Summoned to Parliament, Mugabe realized the gravity of the situation and agreed to resign.

Three days later, Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in and became the third president in the country's history, promising "the start of a new democracy".

Support from the international community

If the deposed president, Robert Mugabe, and his wife Grace were the big losers in the political conflict lurking within the ruling party, they were pardoned and released by the new power. For his part, Emmerson Mnangagwa decided to create an alliance between the power and the opposition. From Nelson Chamisa's Tsvangirai, to pastor Evan Mawarire, to warlord Christopher Mutsvangwa, everyone then called on the populations for calm and patience, while awaiting "a transition to true democracy" in Zimbabwe.

During the coup, not a shot was fired and the military did not cling to power. The new president Mnangagwa simply ceded two ministerial portfolios, including that of Foreign Affairs, in order to satisfy the army.

In the international community, with the exception of resistance from Guinean President Alpha Condé, his Zambian counterpart Edgar Lungu or even the South African head of state Jacob Zuma, no one opposed the taking of power of Mnangagwa. And while Jacob Zuma attended the Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting, along with a few ministers from countries in the region, Western countries cleverly avoided commenting on the situation in Zimbabwe. A silence that took the form of a dubbing of the new head of state.

A positive result for Mnangagwa

What is the president's record today? Development indicators show a clear improvement in the situation over the past four years. The Human Development Index continues to increase, placing Zimbabwe in the top 20 in Africa, ahead of Rwanda, Cameroon, Nigeria and even Côte d'Ivoire.

The president also succeeded in restoring diplomatic relations with China, Russia and several African countries despite the still ongoing US embargo. On the economy side, the increase in fuel prices in 2019, and the end of the smuggling of hydrocarbons which had brought the economy to its knees in the past years, lowered inflation from 18% to 4%.

Mnangagwa has, finally, succeeded in implementing its policy of "promoting the black economy", which consists in leaving to national companies the major part of the exploitation of the natural resources of the country. A policy that made it possible to reduce unemployment from 9,7% in 2017 to 6% in 2021.

Despite everything, the Zimbabwean president was the target of an assassination attempt in 2018, shortly before the July elections. The general elections were nonetheless peaceful, with Mnangagwa winning the ballot with 51% of the vote. His party, the Zanu-PF, has a comfortable majority in parliament.

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