Zimbabwe: South Africa Must Step Out of the Political Smokescreen and Address the Crisis in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa (file photo).

Zimbabwe, the perennial problem child in the region during the late president Robert Mugabe era, once again finds itself at the centre of attention because of the escalation of human rights violations in the post-Mugabe era.

When Robert Mugabe was removed from power in a civilian-assisted Zimbabwean military coup in 2017, it presented a narrow window of opportunity to transform the country into a real democracy. The appointment of Emmerson Mnangagwa, who claimed to be as "soft as wool", as the new president was a masterstroke move by the army. It confounded critics and earned the coup the support of the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Critics who pointed out that this was a coup and that a military state was in the making were drowned out by a chorus from a "give-ED-a-chance" brigade, comprised of prominent businesspeople, diplomats, Zanu-PF supporters and some ordinary people. Many mistakenly equated the removal of Mugabe the person with the dismantling of Mugabe the system. The momentum generated by the removal of Mugabe by the army was long enough to give Zanu-PF another controversial electoral victory in the 2018 elections.

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