World in View: Zimbabwe in crisis

From the September-October 2016 issue of News & Letters

As President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party continues to be roiled by the question of his potential successor, new pressures are coming to bear. While Mugabe would prefer his wife Grace to become the next autocrat, China, his major patron, has come out in favor of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa was trained in 1960s China–his major support base is in the Chinese-supplied military.

The Chinese are also demanding reforms to the ruling party in the wake of Zimbabwe’s default of $1.5 billion in loans.

Itai Dzamara. Photo: Amnesty International

More significantly, mass protests and strikes have also erupted over unemployment, electoral reform, and failure to pay doctors’, nurses’, and teachers’ salaries. This has been a largely spontaneous uprising.

Patson Dzamara, brother of disappeared activist Itai Dzamara, said: “If we were to have a single coordinated organization, the security apparatus would easily infiltrate and destroy it. I think it is okay to have a number of movements which share the same values. We have a converging point in the removal of Mugabe.”

The strikes and protests have put a major crimp into both Western and Chinese capitalism’s efforts to “engage” with Mugabe’s government over its $7 billion debt.

–G.E.

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