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05/01/2014 POST MUGABE ZIMBABWE- SEARCHING FOR A SUCCESSOR By Segun Badmus- Pretoria, South Africa

The political and economic trajectory of Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) is of great interests in the understudy of Africa’s socio-political environment and history. A nation founded in 1979 after the unilateral declaration of independence by Ian Smith, an Irish white minority from the British stranglehold which eventually achieved self governance with the swearing-in of Robert Mugabe in 1980 as the 1st President of a free Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe was once a jewel of the African continent and a pride of the British hegemony, which served as the food basket of the Southern African Development Community, providing food for local consumption and exports, creating jobs and investments in agriculture through mechanized farming. It was also producing gold and diamond until when it was removed from the legal mechanism of trading in precious stones, a certification known as the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme. The prosperity of this beautiful nation however came to a halt when the nationalization of mines and seizures of lands without restitution began in year 2000 through ZANU-PF’s introduction of the policy of appropriating land as a government without commensurate compensation to owners dispossessing white minorities of the land in the process which has attracted the scorn of vested interests that see old Rhodesia as part of their business entities that must be protected. Recently, at a symposium at the UNISA Senate hall, former President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki revealed the underlying issues in the Zimbabwe crisis where he elaborated on the election outcomes and the dissolution of the Power Sharing Agreement of 2008 with MDC. He stressed the importance of land to the Zimbabwe people, that it is a very sensitive issue that weeps up nationalistic emotions when discussed.

According to Thabo Mbeki who said “as part of the delegation to Cuba in 1987 in the company of the late OR Tambo on a working visit to meet Fidel Castro when he referred to the ANC’s Freedom Charter where it stated the takeover of mines without commensurate skills to manage the mines, that what is the sense in taking over the mines and later re-engaging same people to manage it? That the ANC should train and groom mine engineers and mine operators among its ranks before deciding to take it over.” This same prognosis is applicable to the Zimbabwean issue where ZANU PF has not prepared the majority of its citizens for the challenge they are currently facing. The policy of taking land forcefully without preparing stakeholders with requisite knowledge and resources to manage its wealth should be reviewed by measuring how it has actually benefited the overall interests of the people. I posit that it is not sufficient to repossess land on the strength of Afro centric sentiment without requisite know how in actually transforming the land for the benefit of the majority? I ask again, in whose interest is the land appropriated, ZANU-PF’s interests or the entire people of Zimbabwe? Although, with the recent discoveries on some of the land that was dispossessed from white minorities of the worlds largest diamond reserves justifies the forceful takeover of the land without compensation. While the white minority were in possession of thousands of hectares of land under the guise they were mechanized farmers, true reason is the fact that the land indeed are rich in diamond where Zimbabwe has suddenly become the largest reserve of this precious stone. My focus in this essay therefore is to encourage ZANU PF to begin the succession debate in preparation for the eventual exit of Robert Mugabe; grooming good leadership is the best President Robert Mugabe can bestow on the people of Zimbabwe by choosing a good successor through a majority vote to carry on the good policies of the current government. It is yet to be seen how the party intends to handle post Mugabe governance challenges, it should begin the expansion of the space of participation by breaking away from the current trend. Failure to prepare for this eventuality could engender a disorganized society based on AK 47’s.

While ZANU PF has been documented to be a party without transparency and accountability as many of its operatives has been documented to be involved in corruption and illicitly transferring proceeds of stolen gold and diamonds overseas. Ex- military veterans who fought the liberation wars are active supporters of the ZANU PF that sees the territorial boundaries of Zimbabwe as its stranglehold. The political leadership should begin to open more spaces for inclusive participation by allowing the press, civil society and the opposition parties the freedom to campaign without let or hindrances and freeing them from institutional strangulations while the MDC and other political parties in the opposition should continue to challenge the policies and implementation strategies of the incumbents for more progress and developments of Zimbabwe. Negatively, the continued imposition of sanctions on the nation is like salt on a fresh wound while the alienation of the country because of his actions of reclaiming its territorial boundaries should pass as part of lessons of developments of the nation, though this has caused great damage to the once upon a time pride of the whole world, the recent discussion on the possible readmission of Zimbabwe into the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme is a welcome development and a step in the right direction as this would allow the proceeds of the resources to be well documented and utilized. Finally, it is time to begin the search for Mugabe’s successor through the rank and file of the party so that the nation can benefit from a peaceful transition of power. The secrecy, lack of transparency and accountability in the process of governance which has resulted in Zimbabwe becoming one of the poorest countries in the world despite it being one of the most endowed in terms of natural resources is condemnable. We cannot afford to have a Zimbabwe in violence after the exit of Mugabe. Time to take action is now. Thank you and God bless.