Section: News

Global Kenyon: Mnangagwa Sworn in as President for Zimbabwe

Emmerson Mnangagwa replaced Robert Mugabe on Nov. 24 as the president of Zimbabwe following a military coup, according to a Nov. 22 New York Times article.

The ruling party, The Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), selected Mnangagwa as president after Mugabe’s resignation on Nov. 21. In his first official address, Mnangagwa announced plans for economic reforms  by inviting more foreign investment and cracking down on corruption, according to a Nov. 21 CNN article. For example, one of his first policies sets a three-month amnesty period, starting from Dec. 1,  in which corporations and individuals can return funds illegally funneled from the country. After the amnesty period ends, the government will arrest anyone who did not comply. The policy aims to keep more cash in the country and to prosecute corrupt individuals or groups, according to a Nov. 28 South China Morning Post article.

The transfer of power from Mugabe to Mnangagwa marks the first change in Zimbabwe’s leadership since 1980 when Zimbabwe first won independence. Mnangagwa emphasized the coup as a reflection of the people’s will and a sign of democracy in his inauguration speech, according to a Nov. 22 New York Times article.

Mnangagwa served as vice president under Mugabe and it was widely believed that he would become the next president. Mugabe fired him on Nov. 6 after accusing Mnangagwa of personal disloyalty. The Zimbabwe Defence Forces, with whom Mnangagwa has strong ties, staged a coup on Nov. 14 and helped place him back in power, according to CNN..

Mnangagwa worked closely with Mugabe before his dismissal and helped execute many unpopular policies, such as the seizure of white-owned farms in the 2000s, according to a Nov. 24 New York Times article.

“There was a power struggle between factions within the ZANU-PF,” Associate Professor of History Stephen Volz said. “Grace Mugabe was accumulating allies, but Mnangagwa had more military support.”

After marrying Robert Mugabe, Grace Mugabe became a powerful political figure as the head of the women’s league of ZANU-PF. She previously expressed a desire to see Mnangagwa fired in a rally and aimed for the vice presidency herself, according to a News 24 article.

According to Professor of Political Science and chair of the political science department David Rowe, who wrote his dissertation about Zimbabe, the coup was not a revolution by the people, but power switching hands. “It was essentially a palace coup. Nothing suggests Zimbabwe will be more democratic, although of course people express hope,” he said. Rowe wrote his dissertation on Zimbabwe.

The lack of response from an opposition party to the ZANU-PF signals that there may be little change politically in Zimbabwe, according to Volz.

Volz and Rowe expressed their pessimism about any real political change in Zimbabwe. Both professors said there is little reason to believe Mnangagwa

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