Is there hope for Zimbabwe after Robert Mugabe?

Zimbabwe’s first President, Robert Gabriel Mugabe has died, aged 95, but his death has not allayed fears about the future of Zim
Is there hope for Zimbabwe after Robert Mugabe?

When Zimbabwe’s longtime ruler, Robert Mugabe was forced out of office in November 2017, the country seemed to have taken a turn for the better.

Mugabe’s successor and the incumbent, Emmerson Mnangagwa, came into power with many promises.

Politically, he was breaking away from his predecessor’s autocratic past and presented himself as a man with a breath of fresh air, re-engaging with the international community after years of diplomatic isolation.

The people expected a return to democracy from now-elected President, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

READ: Zimbabwe’s ex-president, Robert Mugabe dies aged 95


Economically, the 76-year old Mnangagwa was pursuing new policies such as opening up the country for business under the “open for business” initiative.

He was also looking to abandon controversial policies such as indigenisation – a law that compelled foreign investors with businesses with a net asset value of $1 to cede 51% equity stakes to indigenous Zimbabweans.

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Aided by various public relations gimmicks that won him admiration, Mnangagwa was set to succeed.

Fast forward to present day, the hope for a new Zimbabwe is still in doubt.

Mnangagwa has lost support and confirmed the fears of many that there may be someone who can run the country worse than Mugabe.

Some Zimbabweans believe things have gotten tougher since Mnangagwa took over.

In the run-up to the elections in 2018, Mnangagwa promised millions of jobs, a better life, and a better Zimbabwe.

A year later, none of the promises has been delivered.

Some say Mnangagwa is far more brutal than Mugabe and an even worse dictator.

In January, five months after being sworn in as the country’s third President, more than 17 unarmed people were shot and killed by the military for protesting against high fuel prices.

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Is there hope for Zimbabwe after Robert Mugabe?
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)

Scores were wounded or arrested.

While Mugabe had generally been seen as a dictator, he had never unleashed soldiers on protesters.

READ: Zimbabwean President confirms Mugabe’s hospitalisation in Singapore

The US imposed sanctions as a result, saying the sanctions would only be removed if Harare shows commitment and political will to return to democracy through fostering the rule of law and holding credible elections, among other key reforms.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been clampdowns on activists and opposition figures.

In the past few months, the government has seemingly targeted civil society activists and workers.

State security agents arrested seven activists between May 20 and 27 at Harare’s Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport on their return from a workshop in the Maldives.

Recently, a female comedian, Samantha Kureya, popularly known as Gonyeti was reportedly kidnapped from her house and assaulted by unknown people before she was dumped in Crowborough.

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The popular online comedian and satirist is the latest perceived government critic to be attacked in recent weeks.

The questions on the lips of many Zimbabwean are, will the economic and political situation of the country be any better under Mnangagwa? Is Zimbabwe’s post-Mugabe era anything to hope for?

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