This article looks at the recent events around the removal of Robert Mugabe from power in Zimbabwe. It argues that this will not bring liberation for the people of Zimbabwe, as it does not address the problems Zimbabwe faces – a ruthless ruling class, its state, capitalism and imperialism.
Robert Mugabe, the longstanding authoritarian ruler that has waged a war against Zimbabwe’s poor, is gone. He was forced to resign in the wake of a coup – although the main actors in the coup comically denied it was one.
When it was announced that Mugabe was exiting power, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Harare to celebrate. Many are hoping that his exit will bring change for the better for Zimbabwe. This hope, unfortunately, may be wishful thinking. The reason for this is that Mugabe was a symptom of far deeper problems, and without addressing those problems, Zimbabwe cannot be free; nor can there be genuine equality. Similarly, those that removed Mugabe are cut from the same cloth, and come from the same ruthless ruling class.
Slogans like “Erase Rhodes”, “Rhodes so White,” and Rhodes must Fall,” emerging from student groups at South Africa’s elite universities, recently monopolised social media. These have taken off, because South Africa is in need of great structural change; 20 years after the important 1994 transition, many black people remain trapped in oppressive conditions.
No one would deny that during apartheid blacks, Coloureds and Indians were racially oppressed, abused, and as workers, exploited. If removing statues and changing place names can help solve the problems, and form part of a meaningful redress of past and present injustices, then such actions must be supported.
But can such demands really do so?