I remember as a young man the domination of British politics and our media by the problems of Southern Rhodesia, and the Unilateral Declaration of Independence by Ian Smith in 1965. It was probably the first ‘foreign affairs’ issue I took a real interest in. As did many British people, I initially was unsure of whether UDI was the right way forward. But again, like many British people, I grew quickly to oppose Ian Smith. He was soon condemned by almost the rest of the world - all except South Africa and Portugal.
It was 13 yrs later that a one man - one vote election (for ‘man’ read ‘woman’ as the lawyers used to say) was held. It delivered a black majority ZANU PF Government led by Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo. There was never any doubt that it was Uncle Bob who called the shots.
Mugabe has been there ever since. But finally, it looks as if his time is up. He has been a very bad leader, in every conceivable way. He and his wife, Grace have stripped massive sums of money from the economy, and bankrupted Zimbabwe. I saw an old trillion dollar Zimbabwean note from 2009 today. It would only buy a loaf of bread!
Mugabe is a clever and devious operator, not to be under-estimated, even though he is of advanced years. But he brought it on himself by sacking his loyal sidekick Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had assumed he would Mugabe’s successor. So had the army. And that matters. The idea had been to clear the way for Mugabe’s wife, Grace to take over the reins, and have the entire nation feed her greed and extravagance. The military were not willing to put up with it. ZANU PF have removed Mugabe from the leadership of the party. It was expected that he would resign as Prime Minister yesterday, but he surprised everyone by refusing. Looks as if he will now be impeached. Hard to be certain where this is going.
The decision to impeach is likely to happen tomorrow. It involves setting up an impeachment committee, which can be done by simple majority. But the vote in the Zimbabwean Parliament to actually impeach requires a two thirds majority - more uncertain. But the people of the wonderfully fertile country of Zimbabwe deserve to see the back of the Mugabes. But what sort of leadership takes over the is an entirely different story. Just hope it happens by means of a full and fair election.