Mixed Emotions

After Morgan Tsvangirai won the first round of Presidential elections in Zimbabwe in 2008, I followed developments there hoping for a peaceful transition to democracy for a few years before throwing in the towel.

I figured that nothing would change, and I felt that I had nothing to add.

Well, it appears that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces have deposed Robert Mugabe in a coup.

I’m not sure if this actually constitutes a change, or if it will lead to change:

Zimbabwe — After ruling Zimbabwe for nearly four decades, leading the country from the triumph of its independence struggle to economic collapse, the world’s oldest head of state became a prisoner of the military he once commanded.

Robert Mugabe, 93, was detained along with his wife, according to a military announcement Wednesday. The move appears to end one of Africa’s most controversial political dynasties while raising questions about what might come next — military rule, a transitional government or a settlement that would allow Mugabe to return to power.

No matter what happens, this appears to be a watershed moment for Zimbabwe and southern Africa, which have suffered from the tumult of Mugabe’s reign, even as his hold on power sometimes seemed unshakable.

Zimbabweans awoke early Wednesday to a televised announcement from an army general promising that there was “not a military takeover,” although Mugabe had been detained and armored vehicles were rolling into Harare, the capital.


Mugabe recently purged some key officials from the ruling party, ZANU-PF, paving the way for his 52-year-old spouse, Grace, to succeed him. Many see that move as a major miscalculation, alienating Mugabe from the civilians and military leaders on whom he had long depended. 

Seeing as how the military is part and parcel of the corruption and human rights disaster that is today’s Zimbabwe, I do not expect this to usher in an era freedom, prosperity, and democracy.

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