Act before tyrant dies: World needs to prepare for Zimbabwe without Mugabe

IN ZIMBABWE they are waiting for rain. The region’s worst drought in a decade has withered the maize (or corn) crop, which came in at only about half the size of last year’s. The poor harvest has left at least 1.5m people—more than one in every eight—in desperate need of food aid.

Mugabe

For Zimbabwe’s long-suffering people, waiting has become a national vocation. For 15 years since he rigged a general election in 2000, Zimbabweans have waited for the chance to be shot of Robert Mugabe.

He has ruled the country since its independence in 1980, and so gravely wrecked its economy that people are poorer today than they were 25 years ago. Of late, despairing of democratic change, they have simply waited for the 91-year-old to succumb to mortality.

The parched harvest and weak economy mean that their patience may soon be rewarded: if Mr Mugabe does not die first, it looks increasingly possible that he may be pushed out by his party, Zanu-PF, over which his ruthless control is slipping. To be sure, he has weathered economic and political crises before. But this time things are different.

One reason is that Mr Mugabe’s mental powers seem at last to be failing him. He recently read out the very same speech that he had delivered to parliament only three weeks earlier. Still more pressing is the fact that his government is running out of the money it needs to pay the public servants, especially policemen and soldiers, who keep it in power and whose wages gobble up more than 80% of public spending.

In previous crises Mr Mugabe could usually pull a rabbit out of the hat. When his popularity fell, he seized land from white farmers and gave it to his supporters. And when, as a result, the money ran out, he printed more. Now Mr Mugabe’s hat is out of rabbits. The government cannot borrow from abroad because it defaulted on its foreign loans in 1999; even China has balked at helping. Nor can it print money, because it was forced to adopt dollars to tame the hyperinflation that rampaged in 2008. And because Zimbabwe imports more than it exports, its supply of currency is shrinking, driving it into deflation. Official estimates of growth are divorced from reality. The amount of beer sold, a good measure of the economy, has dropped by 8% in the past year (see article). Electricity in Harare, the capital, is often cut off for 18 hours a day. Firms are shedding thousands of workers.

Zimbabwe’s only way out is to make peace with its creditors, which include the IMF and Western governments, in order to get new loans and forgiveness of its foreign debt, which stands at over 100% of GDP. This month the finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa, will present a reform plan that includes spending cuts and changes to some of the laws that are holding back investment, such as one insisting that all firms are majority-owned by black Zimbabweans.

Be kind but firm

The dilemma for the West is whether to bail out the government with debt relief and new loans—or wait for the demise of the tyrant. The choice need not be so stark. Relative reformists such as Mr Chinamasa should be encouraged, despite his record as a serial human-rights abuser when he was minister of justice; even more sinister party chiefs are sharpening their knives for the succession.

Western governments should lay down firm conditions for aid. They must form a plan that makes assistance and debt relief depend on measurable economic and democratic reforms. But they need to hurry. If they act now they may influence the outcome for the better. If they wait until Mr Mugabe has gone, a precious opportunity may be lost. – The Economist

Related Posts
Zimbabweans’ Quite Response to Hardships Not Defeat
HARARE—Many have described the year 2015 as a great one for Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe – highlights include hosting several high-level international delegations to Zimbabwe including Chinese leader Xi Jinping, ...
READ MORE
Panama Papers: Zimbabwe must not waste this opportunity
Zimbabwe, like many other mineral rich developing countries, isn’t seeing many benefits from the extraction of its mineral wealth. In fact, in 2015, Zimbabwe lost $500 million according to the ...
READ MORE
Longevity? Here’s Mugabe’s advice
Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who has just turned 91, said on Thursday that one of his secrets to a long life was “not filling my stomach”. In a televised ...
READ MORE
ZUNDE’s response to Mujuru manifesto
After reading the People First manifesto and the comments posted by the MDC-T and Zanu-PF, I found myself having a re-look at our Zunde values and objectives as enshrined in ...
READ MORE
IMPI Proposals: Will Moyo redefine media landscape?
HARARE - The completion of the Information Media Panel Inquiry (IMPI) last week comes with a far reaching media reforms under the auspices of Jonathan Moyo the minister who changed ...
READ MORE
Zuma could stay if anti-Ramaphosa group wins
SOME of the top six members of the African National Congress (ANC) apparently almost had a nervous breakdown during the period after the removal of Thabo Mbeki as president of ...
READ MORE
Mliswa backs Tsvangirai to lead the coalition
FORMER Zanu PF chair for Mashonaland West, Temba Mliswa, has berated ousted Vice President Joice Mujuru for alleged betrayal and believing she could match with MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai's popularity. According ...
READ MORE
Chinamasa wins unlikely praise as he seeks re-engagement with global capital
HARARE,– 2015 could be aptly described as the year of the lion in Zimbabwe. By Nelson Banya After all, a lion that not many locals knew even existed but had a huge ...
READ MORE
Robert Mugabe’s party meets as disintegration looms
HARARE - Warring Zanu PF bigwigs come face to face at what promises to be an explosive central committee meeting in Harare today, ahead of the ruling party’s National Consultative ...
READ MORE
They shots and killed my husband; then burnt his body! – Mujuru
HARARE - Former Vice President Joice Mujuru has made sensational claims that her late husband, liberation struggle icon and decorated army general Solomon Mujuru, was murdered in August 2011. Speaking in ...
READ MORE
Zimbabweans’ Quite Response to Hardships Not Defeat
Panama Papers: Zimbabwe must not waste this opportunity
Longevity? Here’s Mugabe’s advice
ZUNDE’s response to Mujuru manifesto
IMPI Proposals: Will Moyo redefine media landscape?
Zuma could stay if anti-Ramaphosa group wins
Mliswa backs Tsvangirai to lead the coalition
Chinamasa wins unlikely praise as he seeks re-engagement
Robert Mugabe’s party meets as disintegration looms
They shots and killed my husband; then burnt

Arts & Entertainment

Arts & Entertainment

Jennifer Lopez coyly addresses Drake relationship amid romance rumours

20th January 2017 Staff Reporter 0

Jennifer Lopez claims her relationship with rapper Drake is strictly professional. In a new interview, the Shades Of Blue actress avoided questions about their rumoured romance and instead, confirmed they have collaborated on a new […]

Arts & Entertainment

Paris Jackson ‘wants to vomit’ seeing white actor as ‘King of Pop’

12th January 2017 Staff Reporter 0

Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris says she is “incredibly offended” by a new comic film in which a white British actor, Joseph Fiennes, portrays the late “King of Pop.” Paris Jackson, 18, also called the tongue-in-cheek […]