By Peta Thornycroft
Yes, finally this seems to be the end of the road for Mugabe, and I can’t see him standing for re-election in 2018. He will be gone before then. People on the streets and groups are telling me, and I can see with my own eyes, that there is almost no respect left for Mugabe, and a lot less fear of him as well.
Robert Mugabe’s final humiliation is at hand.
He can’t get out of the latest mess he created because at the end of the day it comes down to the money, and he doesn’t have enough to save himself or the country.
Even his avaricious wife, Grace, arguably the most disliked person in much of Zimbabwe, has been cooled down in the last months and no longer plays much of a political role.
The overdue end of the Mugabe era is the message spewing out of Harare after 10 days of social unrest, including a stayaway, strike, and some violence against the state by people on the street who say they are too desperate to be frightened any longer.
“They have so little, they have nothing to lose” is the message on the streets. “Why should I care? I have nothing” said a vendor of cellular recharge cards in a small shopping centre south of the city.
This week, Mugabe’s Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa was in London, cap in hand, addressing a conference, looking for money. Assuring any investor who would listen that Mugabe’s controversial and investor unfriendly “indigenisation” policy no longer counts and insisting Zimbabwe has changed and it would also massively revamp its land policies to pay out evicted white farmers. “The past is over, let’s look to the future,” Chinamasa said.
A few days earlier in an interview about Zimbabwe’s financial situation with French radio, Chinamasa said: “Right now, we literally have nothing.”
The UK Economist, which covered the Tuesday conference in London, said Chinamasa was hoping to finalise a deal to borrow about R15â€…billion to pay off its debts to the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank, so that it can borrow again and restart the economy.
But analysts say Mugabe doesn’t have time for any of this to be put in place as the treasury cannot pay most of its public servants on time next week, again, and many companies cannot pay South African suppliers for equipment or stocks of materials they need.
The final nail in Mugabe’s coffin, many analysts say, is that a small cellular phone campaign of SMSes brought the country to a halt on Wednesday. Zanu-PF doesn’t know how to stop the social media as most of Zimbabwe’s adult population has a cellphone.
Brian Raftopoulos, the country’s most prominent political analyst and senior academic, said: “Yes, finally this seems to be the end of the road for Mugabe, and I can’t see him standing for re-election in 2018. He will be gone before then. People on the streets and groups are telling me, and I can see with my own eyes, that there is almost no respect left for Mugabe, and a lot less fear of him as well.”
Raftopoulos said he expects the security sector to try to crack down on those involved in the social media campaign which shut Zimbabwe down on Wednesday but doubts this will stop the resistance. “It will be hard for Zanu-PF to locate all the sources.”
Independent Foreign Service