How did Zimbabwe get here?

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Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe gestures as he attends the 2nd Session of the South Africa-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission in Pretoria, South Africa October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

In 2013 a resounding electoral victory handed back full control of Zimbabwe’s Government to ZANU- PF, ending an uncomfortable coalition with the opposition.

The four-year Government of National Unity was characterised by power struggles and bitter turf wars, which President Robert Mugabe’s party claimed had hindered full implementation of its economic and social development agenda.

Restored to its full dominance the ruling party promised that it would create millions of jobs, unlock billions in investment and repair aging infrastructure. But the 4-year term has been anything but the blissful road to prosperity that was declared in 2013.

The ruling party has been dogged by internal fractures and increasingly widening divisions – all centering on the most lingering question in Zimbabwean politics – who will replace the country’s sole leader since independence?

Zimbabwe’s former vice president Joice Mujuru gestures while addressing supporters in Harare, March 1, 2016. REUTERS

Joice Mujuru, a former Vice President was the first to be purged in 2014. She was accused, initially by First Lady Grace Mugabe, and eventually by the President and the rest of the party for plotting to overthrow the veteran leader. A number of party stalwarts believed to have been working with her, were also banished.

Her departure saw the elevation of Emmerson Mnangagwa. The promotion was perceived by many to be an anointing by Mugabe. But soon the feared former security and defence minister was in the firing line too. Like his predecessor, the tormentor in chief was the First Lady and the charges were the same.

FILE PHOTO: President Robert Mugabe (R) greets Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa as he arrives for Zimbabwe’s Heroes Day commemorations in Harare, August 10, 2015. REUTERS

Backed by a clique of “young turks”, referred to as Generation 40 (G40), Grace Mugabe tore into the Mnangagwa at a series of youth rallies.

Her attacks not only highlighted the widening rifts in ZANU PF, but also alienated the country’s liberation war veterans, some of whom are still serving soldiers and make up the military top brass.

They accused G40 of being counter revolutionaries who had hijacked the party and begun enriching themselves shamelessly at the expense of the struggling masses.

Mnangagwa was eventually fired on Monday November 6th.

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, right, is shown with Gen. Constantine Chiwenga, centre, on July 4, 2008, in the capital Harare. (Reuters)

A week later Zimbabwe’s Army Commander, General Constantino Chiwenga, issued a hard-hitting statement calling for the purges of war veterans to stop and for the “counter revolutionaries” to be “fished out”. Many saw this as the military throwing its weight behind Mnangagwa.

Exemplifying the entrenched and irreconcilable differences that had taken root, ZANU PF accused Chiwenga of treasonous conduct.

By issuing the statement and by responding with such serious accusations, both sides had crossed the proverbial rubicon, setting into a motion a series of events that have plunged Zimbabwe into unchartered territory.

Citizens have never seen armed soldiers commandeer their parliament and government buildings.

It’s a sight that has many apprehensive.

As they take in the dramatic events of the last few days they have many unanswered questions.

Top of the list still is – who will replace President Mugabe?

 

Contribution by CGTN’s Farai Mwakutuya.

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