What a time it has been for those of us who love Zimbabwe. In just a few days Robert Mugabe and his wife have been removed from power, by the army, no less. It has all been done peacefully; Zimbabweans have reacted with almost universal joy. Mnangagwa has been instated as president. No one has died and there is peace and hope. It is an amazing change. Many people have asked what I think of all this. Well I don’t claim to know much more than the newspapers but here are some random thoughts which may interest you:
- On the whole the news reporting has been good and reliable. I have agreed with most of what I read. I am delighted, too, with what has happened.
- So far there is peace but we must be wary. Mnangagwa and the army kept Mugabe in power and were responsible for much of the intimidation, violence and deaths of the past forty years. These leopards have not suddenly become liberal democrats, whatever they say.
- David Coltart, the Bulawayo human rights lawyer sent out a very strong warning that all this has actually been illegal, much as we have welcomed it. The country needs to return to the rule of law. Will the new president and the army enable that?
- Fundamentally there has been a struggle for power within ZANUPF. Grace Mugabe thought she was winning it. Instead Mnangagwa and his generals have come out on top. But there are other factions. Mnangagwa is not popular within the party or in the country. As far as the party goes, he knows too much. He has been security chief for too long. For the rest of the country, he is responsible for much of the political violence. Others are waiting in the wings to unseat him. Will he pre-empt them with violence or let the proper political processes take their course?
- Three factors may give us hope:
a: The very fact that his power base is insecure may convince him that he needs a unity government to back him, and that he dare not take liberties or other powerful leaders like Joyce Mujuru will denounce him to the people.
b: He is reputed to be pragmatic and wants to get the economy going again. He does, I am told, have the respect of large parts of the business community. If he can put the economy before politics then there is hope. He is even rumoured to want to let white commercial farmers back on the land, at least in a small way.
c: He doesn’t have the Mugabe charisma, neither personally nor as the leader who gave us independence. The people have seen Mugabe go. They know that politicians can be got rid of, and Mnangagwa knows that, too!
- If, then, he does enable a free and fair election in order to get Zimbabwe accepted back into the world, I believe the people will show what they really think of ZANUPF. I think the party’s days are numbered both because of its internal divisions and because of the violence they have perpetrated on the people. Given a chance to vote freely the people will show it.
- Unfortunately the opposition is in disarray. Can they get their act together in the next few months?
- So all of you who pray, please do pray. This is a knife edge situation still. Left to itself it could fall apart into chaos and worse tyranny. With God anything is possible. That’s the bit we need to hold on to. Pray especially for the opposition leaders: Morgan Tsvangirai, Nelson Chamisa, David Coltart, Tendai Biti, Joyce Mujuru that they will be able to hold the new government to its promises and bring the country back to constitutional rule.
I shall be going to Zimbabwe on 5th December for ten days to do Tariro work. I shall know more then. You can imagine how much I am looking forward to it!
Thanks for prayers, support and everything else.