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[Opinion] Differences and similarities between South Africa and Zimbabwe

 

The land debate has created a new fear of economic collapse and ruin and all we hear about these days is how South Africa is on its way to becoming the ‘next Zimbabwe’; an inflationary crisis-prone country, with food and fuel shortages, power outages and not to mentions western sanctions.

While there are similarities, like the struggle for freedom from minority rule, a highly unequal society and the on-going land debate, it’s the differences that prevent South Africa from becoming a Zimbabwe-like country.

The difference of having the late Tata Nelson Mandela as the first democratically-elected President, who in his single term in office put reconciliation and peace for all South Africans at the forefront. While former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who had good intentions but was corrupted by power, couldn’t truly deliver democracy for his people.

However, Patrick Bond, a Professor of Political Economy who combines political economy and political ecology at the Wits School of Governance believes that in February 2000, Mugabe’s regime was seen as “hopelessly corrupt and repressive” after 20 years in power.

Says Bond: “His constitutional amendment proposal was rejected by the people, after a strong lobby from civil society – the National Constitutional Assembly – and the newly formed opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change. That meant Mugabe amplified the talk-left, walk-right politics of populism, and authorised land invasions, because he worried he’d lose power to the MDC in the June 2000 parliamentary elections.”

South Africa today is a totally different position than Zimbabwe was when it initiated its land policy. SA makes out part of international bodies that we have to comply with, like the International Criminal Court (ICC), a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, as well as the United Nations Human Rights Council.

South Africa internally still has many checks and balances that the government and ruling party must adhere to. The Constitution remains an important part of the debate; no political party in South Africa has yet spoken about land reform without mentioning the constitution, which means it still at the centre of the South African democracy.

South Africa also has a large assortment of institutions, being civil, financial or academic, who has a strong interest in land expropriation without compensation, like Agri-Forum and the Land bank.

There is the belief that the South African government is very centered in its approach to land reform, with President Cyril Ramaphosa affirming that he won’t allow land expropriation without compensation effect food security and economic stability.

President Ramaphosa, in his parliamentary question and answer session on Wednesday told members of parliament that his goal is to find a balance between those without land and those who own the land.

Perhaps South Africa has the added benefit of viewing how Zimbabwe handled its land policy, its shortcomings and the major problems it created by doing things the wrong way.

But according to Bond, South Africa is yet to reach the stage of “ruling party delegimitisation and civil society counter-power”. He adds: “So Ramaphosa is not really desperate to deal with a genuine leftwing challenge the way Mugabe had to, with his populist ‘jambanja’ (chaotic) land reform. But he is dealing with left-populist challenges to his rule within the ANC and also from the EFF. The crucial ingredients that allow him the space to talk-left, walk-right on land reform in South Africa are a weak, divided and atomised civil society, and the lack of a strong opposition party capable of winning power. Maybe those ingredients will change, however.”

Not only is South Africa approaching the land reform matter the right way, it is being handled responsibly too, through open dialogue, and with the consideration of the economic impact it may have – whether negative or positive for South African citizens.

On the other hand, Bond believes that South Africa is yet to reach the stage of “ruling party delegimitisation and civil society counter-power”. He adds: “Ramaphosa is not really desperate to deal with a genuine leftwing challenge the way Mugabe had to, with his populist ‘jambanja’ (chaotic) land reform. But he is dealing with left-populist challenges to his rule within the ANC and also from the EFF. The crucial ingredients that allow him the space to talk-left, walk-right on land reform in South Africa are a weak, divided and atomised civil society, and the lack of a strong opposition party capable of winning power. Maybe those ingredients will change, however.”

 

By Mokgethi Mtezuka’

Mnangagwa elected to lead Zimbabwe

Votes were tallied early on Friday morning, putting President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the top in the country’s landmark election. This outcome set to fuel fraud allegations, as security forces patrolled the streets to prevent protests

Mnangagwa is from the governing Zanu-PFparty, and took over as President last November from long-serving leader Robert Mugabe. 

According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Mnangagwa won 50.8% of the vote, ahead of Nelson Chamisa of the opposition MDC party who took 44.3%.

The President took to Twitter to thank voters for electing him to be the country’s leader.

“I am humbled to be elected President of the Second Republic of Zimbabwe.Though we may have been divided at the polls, we are united in our dreams.”

“This is a new beginning. Let us join hands, in peace, unity & love, & together build a new Zimbabwe for all!”

 

Source: AP

Bomb at Zimbabwe’s President Mnangagwa’s Election Campaign Rally

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa survived a bomb attack at an Election Campaign Rally that took place in the city of Bulawayo on Saturday.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa survived an attempt on his life after a blast at a his political party’s election campaign rally, where two of his vice-presidents were injured as well as several party officials. Mr Mnangagwa said: “an object exploded a few inches away from me – but it is not my time”.

Video footage circulating on social media from the stadium shows an explosion happening close to President Mnangagwa as he leaves the stage after addressing supporters at the rally. It is confirmed by the Zimbabwe police that about 49 people were injured due to the bomb.

The campaign rally was in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city and an opposition’s stronghold, to campaign for his Zanu-PF party ahead of nationwide elections taking place on 30 July. A spokesman for the president has said that the Vice-President Kembo Mohadi suffered a leg injury, another vice-president, Constantino Chiwenga, received bruises to his face.

The President has visited the injured in Hospital and has said that “he was the target of the attack”. He also tweeted: “This afternoon, as we were leaving a wonderful rally in Bulawayo, there was an explosion on the stage. Several people were affected by the blast, and I have already been to visit them in the hospital.”

Among the injured is also, ZANU-PF chairwoman and cabinet minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and Mary Chiwenga, the wife of Vice-President Chiwenga.

(Source: News.com.au)

Zimbabwe’s readiness for the Elections

Next month, Zimbabwe will enter into its first election under their new era of democracy since a coup that overthrew Former President and Dictator Robert Mugabe. For the first time in the history of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe’s name will not be on the ballot papers, as well as former opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who passed away in February 2018. President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced early this year that elections will take place on 30 July. Twenty-three candidates have come forward to compete for Zimbabwe’s Presidency.

President Mnangagwa promises that the elections will be fair and free and has called for peace throughout. Under the Mugabe reign, elections were filled with violence and intimidation, the Zimbabwean public and international community lost all hope in the Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission (ZEC). The Zimbabwe’s Human Rights Watch has scrutinized the elections credibility and the role the ruling party and opposition play in intimidating the voters. The ZEC has come out and insisted that the electoral management body is well prepared for the coming elections, all measures have been put in place to ensure a fair, free and transparent elections. 

International observers are expected to come and assess the election process, this is one of the measures to ensure the elections are transparent and credibility is placed on them. Opposition parties are ready and confident that they will perform well during the elections, campaigns are in full swing. President Mnangagwa has stated that he will accept whatever outcome, he will step down and allow the new president to lead the country if he loses the elections. The general public of Zimbabwe is not confident that the transition will be as smooth as the president makes it seem. They are not yet confident in the election process.

United States President Donald Trump has stated that sanctions to Zimbabwe will continue as they are not yet sure whether the new dawn of Zimbabwe is real, they will wait to see transformation first.

 

By Ntsikelelo Kuse

[VIEWPOINT] Mugabe and His Country: A Chinese Perspective

By Liu Yunyun (Assistant Executive Editor of Beijing Review)

It came as a big surprise to China that the long-time leader of Zimbabwe and an old friend of China’s had been confined and forced to resign in a “military coup,” despite the fact that many had long questioned whether the nation’s revolutionary leader could effectively lead the poverty-stricken nation to industrialisation and modernisation.

Though his resignation is deemed celebratory by many – some of his people and the so-called media elites from the West – his achievements and failures are part of the nation’s history and legacy which will remain true and significant in understanding this Southern African nation.

Mugabe visited China several times in the hope of finding support for his government and also the Chinese “secret” to success. But unfortunately, as our great reformer Deng Xiaoping had said to his entourage, after his meetings with Mugabe, “He won’t listen.”

China was once in the same international and domestic position as Zimbabwe: poor, backward, and with foreign sanctions. But eventually, after many twists and turns, it found out its own path for economic and social development, which is: making policy changes in accordance with its own national condition without blindly copying others’ way of governance.

READ MORE: Zimbabwe: Domestic Rivalries, US-China Competition Underlie Political Crisis

When it became evident that the former Soviet Union socialist approach could not help Zimbabwe, Mugabe did not draw lessons from the failure of the “big brother,” but instead, continued down the road of proactive policies in various fields, including the land ownership.

Looking back on history, there are some lessons to be learnt from the rise and fall of Mugabe: reform the system when it is necessary; put aside ideological debate while focusing on development; set up a legal base for transition of power and tenure system. Nonetheless, it’s always easier said than done. It is widely expected that his successor can move the nation forward, however difficult it now seems.

Resigned or not, Mugabe has been, is now, and will always be China’s good friend, and so also his country, Zimbabwe. As China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said, China has always adhered to the principle of not interfering in internal affairs of other countries and respects Zimbabwean people’s choice and the choice of Mugabe too. China is committed to cooperation with Zimbabwe to improve the well-being of its people regardless of who its leader will be.

Zimbabwe: Domestic Rivalries, US-China Competition Underlie Political Crisis

By Eric Draitser

On November 14, 2017 military forces in Zimbabwe took control of the streets, sequestered President Robert Mugabe in his residence, and publicly announced that the kinda sorta but not really coup was merely a clean-up operation intended to “target criminals.” While the claim does have some merit – Zimbabwe’s government, like those of nearly all nations in Africa and the Global South, grapples with endemic corruption – it remains difficult to ignore the long and sordid history of military coups in Africa, and then avoid the tendency to view the developments in Zimbabwe through the same lens.

Indeed, most media outlets quickly branded the operation a military coup d’etat.  However, a more critical analysis reveals that this episode is decidedly different from the countless coups that have taken place in the post-colonial history of Africa. In fact, a number of Zimbabwean commentators have made precisely that claim (see here andhere).

George Shire, a London-based political analyst, and veteran of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, incisively noted to Al-Jazeera, “The dominance of ZANU-PF [Zimbabwe’s ruling party since liberation] on the political landscape in Zimbabwe is not in question…What you see is really a leadership contest taking place – Zimbabwean style.” This point is critical in that, typically, a coup would overthrow not only the President, but an entire ruling party in favor of a military that either assumes control itself or installs some new power structure or party. In this case, however, the military has intervened to block one faction of the ruling party from assuming power in favor of another faction.

On November 14, 2017 military forces in Zimbabwe took control of the streets, sequestered President Robert Mugabe in his residence, and publicly announced that the kinda sorta but not really coup was merely a clean-up operation intended to “target criminals.” While the claim does have some merit – Zimbabwe’s government, like those of nearly all nations in Africa and the Global South, grapples with endemic corruption – it remains difficult to ignore the long and sordid history of military coups in Africa, and then avoid the tendency to view the developments in Zimbabwe through the same lens.

Indeed, most media outlets quickly branded the operation a military coup d’etat.  However, a more critical analysis reveals that this episode is decidedly different from the countless coups that have taken place in the post-colonial history of Africa. In fact, a number of Zimbabwean commentators have made precisely that claim (see here and here).

George Shire, a London-based political analyst, and veteran of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, incisively noted to Al-Jazeera, “The dominance ofC [Zimbabwe’s ruling party since liberation] on the political landscape in Zimbabwe is not in question…What you see is really a leadership contest taking place – Zimbabwean style.” This point is critical in that, typically, a coup would overthrow not only the President, but an entire ruling party in favor of a military that either assumes control itself or installs some new power structure or party. In this case, however, the military has intervened to block one faction of the ruling party from assuming power in favor of another faction.

The political turmoil in Zimbabwe is a product of both domestic factional rivalries and broader international political intrigue. Don’t let the corporate media impose its usual superficial narrative on the events in Zimbabwe; as with all things Africa, there’s so much more than meets the eye.

On November 14, 2017 military forces in Zimbabwe took control of the streets, sequestered President Robert Mugabe in his residence, and publicly announced that the kinda sorta but not really coup was merely a clean-up operation intended to “target criminals.” While the claim does have some merit – Zimbabwe’s government, like those of nearly all nations in Africa and the Global South, grapples with endemic corruption – it remains difficult to ignore the long and sordid history of military coups in Africa, and then avoid the tendency to view the developments in Zimbabwe through the same lens.

Indeed, most media outlets quickly branded the operation a military coup d’etat. However, a more critical analysis reveals that this episode is decidedly different from the countless coups that have taken place in the post-colonial history of Africa. In fact, a number of Zimbabwean commentators have made precisely that claim (see here and here).

George Shire, a London-based political analyst, and veteran of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, incisively noted to Al-Jazeera, “The dominance of ZANU-PF [Zimbabwe’s ruling party since liberation] on the political landscape in Zimbabwe is not in question…What you see is really a leadership contest taking place – Zimbabwean style.” This point is critical in that, typically, a coup would overthrow not only the President, but an entire ruling party in favor of a military that either assumes control itself or installs some new power structure or party. In this case, however, the military has intervened to block one faction of the ruling party from assuming power in favor of another faction.

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