It’s been around 100 days since the birth of a “new” Zimbabwe. It’s been around a 100 days since 37 years of authoritarian rule by Robert Mugabe – Head of State since 1980 – finally came to an end. Zimbabwe has a new President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who gained power through a soft military coup against Mugabe, and his chosen successor, Grace Mugabe. And recently, Zimbabwe mourned the death of former Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai: an opposition leader, he came from the trade unions, and spent most of his life fighting against Mugabe.
But what has changed, and what we can we expect now?
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.
I have been home for exactly 13 days. For the sake of finding a fitting analogy I have always understood Zimbabwe to be like the story of the children of Israel stuck in Egypt under a Pharaoh whose heart had been hardened while we wait to one day wake up in our promised land. This analogy is important for me as it creates specific boundaries, limits my excited imagination and almost grounds the present to a particular past.
The last 4 months in Zimbabwe can surely be characterized as an awakening of the Zimbabwean working class, as thousands of these citizens have taken to the streets, responding to Pastor Evan Mawarire’s call: “hatichatya” – we are not afraid. This is certainly a historic time for Zimbabwe; a time of growing labour pains as the country (hopefully) enters a process of rebirth towards a better and new Zimbabwe.
But before we can even begin to talk about a free Zimbabwe and how we would go about getting that, we need to first have a clear and coherent class analysis of the Zimbabwean social and political climate.
Understanding who we are fighting is essential. Zimbabwe without a doubt needs to rid ourselves of the 92-year- old man who thinks the state house is his graveyard. But in the same breath, we must rid itself of the oppressive state system altogether. Swapping a vicious state capitalist manager with another is nowhere close to constituting progress.