What has just happened in Zimbabwe is merely symptomatic of the state of affairs in the African continent. Robert Mugabe, the “last of the Mohicans” of the wars of independence in Africa, has been shown the door at the age of 93. It was the higher echelons of the military and his own political party that decided they had enough of the “Old Lion”, rather than a popular upheaval. The exit scenario was executed masterfully, without any bloodshed or violence of any kind.
To be sure, the people of Zimbabwe, a country that boasts an 83.6% literacy rate among its adult population, have to be commended for showing a strong sense of civility, to say the least, in the face of this major turning point. They are indeed an exception in Africa.
Press reports highlighted that Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe and the country’s Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa have been arch-rivals in the succession wars over President Robert Mugabe’s position. There was no love lost between them: both have been angling to succeed the President, who has ruled the country for 37 years. It is, however, important to caution anyone who rushes into analyzing what is going on in Zimbabwe solely through this prism.
Zimbabwe’s economy is in tatters. Unemployment stands at a staggering 95%, which must be some kind of world record. High inflation has completely destroyed the country’s monetary system. The state has expropriated private savings and converted them into obligations, against the background of a steep deterioration in the standard of living during the last two years.