The West has little choice but to work with ZANU-PF – New York Times


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Given the implosion of any viable opposition in Zimbabwe, the West has little choice but to work with the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, Stephen Chan, a professor of world politics at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies wrote in the New York Times today.

“The world will one day soon see the end of Robert Mugabe. But his party will likely live on, and it is within that party that, like it or not, the West must now find people with whom it can work toward some kind of viable future for this unhappy country,” he wrote.

In an opinion article entitled: Looking beyond Mugabe, Chan said 2015 had been a bad year for President Robert Mugabe starting with his fall at the Harare airport in February and the opening of Parliament speech mix-up in September.

Chan said Mugabe’s likely successors were his wife Grace, but she stood very little chance because she did not have any liberation war credentials; Joice Mujuru, who was expelled from the party last year; Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced Mujuru as Vice-President; and Defence Forces chief, General Constantine Chiwenga.

“The fortunes of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, have plunged since its poor showing in the 2013 elections, and it is now splintered and rudderless. None of the other small opposition parties have made any headway,” he wrote.

“Ms. Mujuru has conspicuously delayed any formal announcement establishing her much-touted People First party, amid reports that some government leaders would like her to be reinstated into ‘the party of liberation’. People like Phelekezela Mphoko, a vice president, want ZANU-PF to remain a tightly knit party, one that solves all problems from within. They do not want a popular politician like Ms. Mujuru splitting their base….

“Given these uncertainties, what can the West do to promote stability and renewed prosperity? Zimbabwe has great economic potential if its agri-industrial sector can be revived and its immense mineral resources developed. The last thing the West needs is another failed state in an increasingly troubled region.

“Unpalatable as it appears, there is much to be said for swallowing hard and re-engaging with the regime. The West has little choice but to put up with the last years of Mr. Mugabe while actively cultivating moderates like Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa. Though hardly an angel, he nevertheless seeks something that resembles fiscal stability — and a modicum of probity — even as Mr. Mugabe urges him to find money somewhere.

“Mr. Chinamasa might in turn encourage Senior Vice President Mnangagwa to learn what it takes to be seen as user-friendly by the West, should his moment for the top seat come. Though Mr. Mnangagwa has his own internal enemies, his party might rally, albeit reluctantly, around one victor so that the spoils of office can continue to be shared among the faithful.

“Should there be conditions for re-engagement? The West probably won’t be able to resist making calls for less opaque financial and political dealings. But the land issue is settled: There is no politically viable force that would seek to restore farms to ousted whites. And given the implosion of any viable opposition, the West has little choice but to work with ZANU-PF — unless Joice Mujuru establishes her own party. But if she decides to do so, General Chiwenga or Mr. Mnangagwa or Grace Mugabe might each claim the mantle of the true defender of Mr. Mugabe’s legacy.”

 

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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