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What Happens When Mugabe Leaves: Zimbabwe In The Next 50 Years

By Tsungai Chipato

21 April, 2015

Translating loosely from General Carl von Clausewitz and his philosophy on war; we begin from a premise, which presumes that violence is the continuation of politics by other means, controlling the means of violence is very important in the art of politics and from this vein of thought we frame the cusp of this article.

Why Does The Mantra, “Mugabe Must Go” Not Matter Anymore?

At the age of 91, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe is either retiring or dying and whoever takes over Zimbabwe as President, will have to be capable of having control over the army and security forces of Zimbabwe. This is not theory but an actual fact, taking the financial crisis of 2008 as our ground zero and starting point, a new way of thinking was birthed within the local Zimbabwean population that has of yet, not been adequately explained or analyzed by experts or historians.

If you were not residing and struggling in Zimbabwe during 2008 or the years preceding after that, understanding how the new Zimbabwean mentality operates and functions will prove difficult. The trauma experienced during this period paints the backdrop on how decisions and values are now formed within Zimbabwe. Therefore not understanding what happened in 2008, will lead an outsider to not understand or comprehend motives behind decisions being made internally within the country.

Should You Care....Zimbabwe Is Struggling Anyway?

Fast forwarding to the year 2015, Zimbabwe now finds itself in a period of economic stagnation with a possible political crisis looming in the horizon. By 2018 the Obama administration would have reshaped the manner in which America will be participating in foreign policy.

The next group of geographic locations, considered emerging “high growth, low wage” markets are currently where President Obama and his administration have already started building foreign trade ties namely South East Asia, Latin America and nations around the Indian Ocean like Mozambique or Uganda, which means for Southern Africa; Zimbabwe cannot be ignored.

With an Iran deal currently on the negotiation table, or the reintroduction of Cuba to the world; with USA playing a wing-man role in Latin America internationally, as well as the Obama pivot of concentrating its military interests into South East Asia, we have now entered into a new way of American thinking, coupled with the end of a Mugabe-Liberation era.

What Do We Need To Pay Attention To?

Obama’s vision of big brother America all-watching, but having a small physical footprint globally will usher in; a period of strong regional hegemony fiefdoms across the world, acting as proxies to either the west or the east respectively.

Why? The guarantee of American dominance is certain, is mainly based on the success both by Republican and Democrat administrations in actively dealing with America’s energy problems ever since President Jimmy Carter’s administration in 1977.

The current drop in oil prices with the American dollar gaining strength, highlights how successful the American shale oil exploration has been for the United States of America as well as how effective President Obama has been; opening up drilling for some of America’s oil reserves. America has now started its pathway to energy freedom, which will inevitably affect the manner in which they view their foreign policy requirements.

According to geopolitical analysts such as George Friedman there is a belief that inevitably China will revert inward just based on its geographical and demographic make up alone; regardless of its current political or economic climate.

For George Friedman China’s “high growth and low wage” model is unsustainable. Their investments should be viewed in terms of 50 to 100 years, with an emphasis on maintaining their population’s welfare. Therefore the exportation of Chinese citizens to other nations, should be seen as an actual foreign policy objective.

What Does This Have To Do With Zimbabwe?

For Zimbabwe our biggest consequence from this current period after China withdraws from us, will be the establishment of Zimbabwean-Chinese citizens who will shape the future of Zimbabwe moving forward for generations to come, this however will not be important until our second or third election cycles post-Mugabe era.

The current “look east” policy we have, will last for at least the next decade at best, partly because we as a nation have no choice but to go with China currently.

A betting man would wager that Emmerson Mnangagwa would become the next President of Zimbabwe just by sheer force alone if need be, the haphazard manner in which President Mugabe has been trying to transition the power structure within his party has inadvertently set Zimbabwe up for a tumultuous decade of civil strife.

With a weak political opposition, with no influence whatsoever within the army or security forces, coupled with a ruling party that will inevitably split into two distinct conservative ideologies after President Mugabe is gone, this unfortunately sets up Zimbabwe’s next episode for the next 50 years as a scenario.

What’s In It For Me?

The upcoming election will not be important because it will only be a transitional stage to the next episode of Zimbabwe’s future. However the person occupying the seat will show us the direction to which Zimbabwe will move, as a nation for the next 30-50 years after the election.

Presuming Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa will be on the top, of Zanu-PF’s ticket, this next election. Expect an international community willing to overlook the legitimacy issues of the elections; so long as it ensures stability and order. Therefore if Emmerson Mnangagwa or whoever the Zanu PF successor is, decided to force his/her way to the presidency. The international community would hold their noses and deal with it, waiting for the dust to settle and avoiding as much bloodshed as possible.

The next upcoming elections become more important to Zimbabwe due to American foreign policy relating to the ZDERA Act, and how it would be perceived by the incumbent American administration at the time.

The United States 2016 Presidential elections, become an important event in terms of Zimbabwe politics and on how our own domestic and foreign policies will be dealt with in congress during the run up of our own elections in 2018 and after that.

How Do The American Elections, Affect A Zimbabwean?

A Hillary Clinton administration in 2016; with a Emmerson Mnangagwa Presidency in 2018 would spell another decade of hardship for Zimbabwe, under most likely harsher trade sanctions and economic embargoes. For this reason alone it is almost certain that a Mnangangwa campaign would aim for some type of electoral legitimacy first, before resorting to force.

The current political need to silence Former Vice President Joyce Mujuru right now actually makes a lot of sense. A Democratic Presidency within the United States in 2018, especially if it results in Hilary Clinton as President, would benefit former Vice President Joyce Mujuru more than it would, any other opposition party in Zimbabwe, taking into consideration that by then; she would have found her voice and coalesced her support into an effective political machine.

OK, So Why Should You Care....?

What Zimbabwe is undergoing, is the death of the Revolutionary generation and the rise of the Born-Free generation. What to watch for in Zimbabwe after President Mugabe is gone; will not be the leaders representing the nation, but the proteges underneath them who will be patiently biding their time for steering Zimbabwe on its set path.

Jonathon Moyo, Simba Makoni, Gideon Gono, Tendai Biti, Saviour Kasukuwere, amongst many other upcoming politicians as well as individuals in the army and security apparatus not known to us, will actually be the real stories behind the direction Zimbabwe will head towards 2058, after this upcoming transitional-babysitting election in 2018 is over.

We are now entering an era in which strategic and smart surgical force will be the norm for world powers. Regional powers will begin to rise globally, with patronage to world powers being masked as alliances, bringing more aid and foreign military bases on sovereign soil, expect South Africa to be among these client states.

For the next 50 years mainly because of past policy initiatives Zimbabwe has placed itself in a position where it will support the east and will look towards nations such as Israel, Iran, India, Turkey, China or Russia first; before it is in a position for its policy to be more amenable to Western support.

What Does This Mean To You The Average Zimbabwean Or Global Citizen?

In a world were oil prices are low; with a possible introduction of Iran into the world market further lowering or stabilizing low oil prices, this creates a situation that is conducive for Zimbabwe to rise from the shadows like a phoenix.

Politics is a contest of wills, Zimbabwe having now established a new psyche after 2008 is now entering a phase after Chimurenga, where it will be forced with choices predicated on global trends both political and economic occurring within real time to move in a certain direction.

Regional hegemony will be the norm for the next following decades; as world powers follow Obama doctrine of having a small footprint but large reach. With South Africa seeing itself in the beginning throes, of a period of decline due to internal conflict. Western powers may have no choice but to deal with whatever administration that administers Zimbabwe.

Tsungai Chipato is a Zimbabwean journalist currently based out of Toronto Canada, and has a column for the online edition of Zimeye.com, a Zimbabwean online news publication. Besides corresponding for several news organizations, he is also currently the Creative director and media consultant for a grassroots cultural online Zimbabwean Organization called Bonogzozo. In order to reach him please feel free to contact him at mugaradzakasungwa@gmail.com


Tsungai Chipato







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