Zimbabwe’s Continuing Self-Destruction
With scheduled presidential elections less than eighteen months away, Zimbabwe faces the prospect of greater insecurity and violence. The economy’s free fall has deepened public anger, and the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party wants to avoid a popular vote by using the legislature it controls to establish a “transitional presidency” and appoint a successor to Robert Mugabe, who has said he will retire. By engineering a transition, Mugabe also intends to secure a dignified personal exit that includes a retirement package and security guarantees. However, such plans may come unglued due to wrangling within ZANU-PF. Through all this the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has been weakened by a major leadership split. Low voter turnout in November 2005 deprived the newly created senate of any legitimacy, but the exercise further tightened ZANU-PF’s grip on political power and patronage. Creation of the senate gave an initial head start to the ZANU-PF faction aligned to Vice President Joyce Mujuru in the presidential succession race, although the fortunes of the competing ZANU-PF faction led by the Minister of Rural Housing and Social Amenities, Emmerson Mnangagwa, have recently improved.