By David B. Moore
Emmerson Mnangagwa's inauguration as Zimbabwe's second president and supreme commander consumed power for the main beneficiary of the "soft" coup of November 2017 that forced Robert Mugabe's long delayed retirement.
The comments of Zimbabwean scholar and activist Brian Raftopoulos during a public meeting at the University of Cape Town five years ago come to mind.
While everyone was wondering what would happen in the weeks before the many battered Zimbabwean elections in 2013, Raftopoulos argued that the military-economic elite of Zimbabwe – a new capitalist class at an early stage – will not be removed only with elections.
This prediction can reach its end in the next five years of Mnangagwa.
The classic dynamics in politics everywhere – the interplay between militarization and democratization – is looming.
The outlook for the next elections in 2023 (subject to constitutional amendments – possibly because Zanu PF MPs make up more than the two-thirds of the parliament needed to change that hard-won document) could assume grim outlines.
It will be about increasing democratic participation – starting with the classical rules of free and fair elections – or a securitization process that is far less secretive than before.
This is the key point to reflect on the medium-term prospects of Zimbabwe.
The others are movements within Zanu PF itself, dynamics within the MDC alliance and what happens to the economy.
Following the ruling of the Constitutional Court in which Mnangagwa was confirmed as the "properly" elected president, MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa suggested that he and Mnangagwa needed a serious discussion that would lead to breaking the legacy of violent and jimmied elections in Zimbabwe.
It is still an open question whether such a discussion would lead to a coalition government, or the room for the faction-ridden MDC Alliance to bend and rebuild the muscles of a loyal opposition.
The bad experiences during the & # 39; unity government & # 39; from 2009 to 2013, a repetition may stand in the way.
But the broader need to soften the new regime against militarization is worth considering.
The warning note to the MDC alliance about such a new dispensation may be: neglect your badly broken party and its allies not in the fold; and do not put your enemies offside.
Meanwhile, many of the MDC alliance and its supporters are concerned that the Zanu PF machine is ready to permanently destroy them.
Much related to the above and perhaps the key, is Zanu PF itself. The battle between the party's top executives could be exaggerated, but the tragic murders of August 1 have thrown him into grim relief.
Tapping like a time bomb is the devastated economy. No real money and a huge number of unemployed people embedded in the precarious "informal sector", if they are not out of the question of the existence of a penitent farmer.
Their situation is so miserable that they are easily bribed – with flour and subsidized prices for their corn, backed up by intimidation of the tribal chiefs – to vote.
The counterfeiting of the rulers against the demonstrators has even made his devoted supporters in the wide world worried.
The "West" dangled before the elections the slightly less rigorous chalice of the Heavily Indebted Poor Country status for the financial bureaucrats of Mnangagwa.
Although Zimbabwe is considered "too rich" for the easier debt relief packages that belong to the status, broad hints were given. It is doubtful whether that whisper will become louder now.
In any case, as civil society taker Takura Zhangazha has written, the policies of the IMF and the World Bank are hopelessly inadequate for the problems of Zimbabwe: it is highly unlikely that his poor majority will be elevated to a dignified existence . In terms of private investment: Zimbabwe will once again be a fair game for the cowboys – both from the east and from the west these days.
Zimbabwe is in a precarious position. The immediate future rests under the sword of Damocles. The threads of democracy must be thickened. It is hoped that the chronicle of his downfall can not be predicted.
– Moore is professor of development studies and guest researcher, institute for pan-African thinking and talking, University of Johannesburg.
This article was originally published in the Daily News (Zimbabwe)