Zimbabwe steps into the future


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The boy’s clubs (young and old) on both sides of politics have been increasingly exasperating for the many highly competent and energetic female politicians who have been kept just below the pinnacles of power.

Khuphe contested the validity of Chamisa’s assumption of the MDC leadership, presenting as a candidate in these elections for MDC-T (the ‘T’ standing for Tsvangirai, as opposed to the MDC-N, headed by Welshman Ncube, an earlier iteration of splits in the party).

Khuphe also labours under the burden of coming from the minority Ndebele population, which predominates only in the south of the country.

Another high-profile female among the twenty-three candidates for president was Joice Mujuru, who was a very young firebrand in the liberation struggle.

Her rise to the vice-presidency in 2004 came at Mnangagwa’s expense, and she was dismissed by Mugabe in December 2014, probably because she was becoming too popular within ZANU-PF.

Her attempts to form a strong rival party — initially People First and subsequently the People’s Rainbow Coalition — struggled to gain traction.

For his part, Mnangagwa has spent the eight months since his ascendency to the presidency assiduously assuring Zimbaweans that a new era was under way.

He has repaired relations with the international donor community, maintained close relations with China, declared Zimbabwe newly open for business, and even held a meeting with white farmers to assure them of a role in restoring Zimbabwe’s place as the region’s bread basket.

On the ground, however, there’s sense that little has changed. The economic challenges remain profound, chief among them the task of stimulating growth when you don’t have your own currency. (Since the hyper-inflation of 2008, Zimbabwe uses the US dollar.)

Corruption persists as a threat to progress at both micro and macro levels. And any future government will have to chart a course between encouraging inflows of money, and becoming dependent on development assistance.

Western development agencies congratulate themselves on squeaky-clean funds distribution, but their practices often induce a different kind of corruption of the spirit.

Money flows to projects whose objectives are set by the external donor, local recipients become practised in the art of telling the donors what they want to hear, and the hard choices in resource-constrained environments are never faced.

Mnangagwa has sought to reinvent himself as the technocrat best able to navigate these choppy waters. Indeed, he may well be able to position Zimbabwe to benefit from the contest for supremacy between China and the West.

He has set his face assuredly to the future, not least because his past includes the 1980s Gukurahundi killings, which obliterated the Ndebele as a political force.

Continued next page

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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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