Risk or opportunity: the end of 37 years of Mugabe rule in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe remains stable despite a de facto military takeover that led to the resignation of President Robert Mugabe after 37 years in power. The military-led proceedings to remove Mugabe have been strongly supported locally and, because constitutional processes were used to force the resignation, accepted regionally and internationally. Former Vice–President Emmerson Mnangagwa is poised to take over the presidency, potentially leading to a more pro-business government.Political upheaval in Harare has had limited effect on commodity markets. Zimbabwe is the world’s third largest producer of platinum, but the situation has had little impact on the price performance of platinum or palladium. Prices are unlikely to rise, as significant disruption to production in the Zimbabwean mines is not anticipated unless the formation of a new government becomes protracted. A prolonged or controversial transition could trigger factionalism within the ruling party, increasing the risk of a violent or fractious transfer of power. The question of Grace Mugabe’s future and potential amnesty from prosecution – given that her attempt to usurp the presidency initiated the military takeover – is yet to be answered. However, asset tracking and the separation of personal and state wealth, as well as business interests, will be a high priority. Mnangagwa, the new leader of the ruling ZANU-PF party, is set to become president. Mnangagwa currently has the support of the country’s Defence Forces. His alignment with General Constantino Chiwenga – the longstanding Commander of Defence Forces – will need to endure through the transition and future challenges. Chiwenga is capable of intervening again if stability is not maintained and short-term results to address Zimbabwe’s ailing economy are not demonstrated.
Richard is a strategic and policy development adviser with extensive experience throughout Africa. He provides analysis on politics, security and economics in sub-Saharan Africa to regional and international public and private sector actors. As an experienced mediator, Richard also advises on the development of political and security strategies to resolve disputes and facilitate political and economic processes. Richard continues to assist investors in Africa in the development of commercial strategies in high-risk environments.
A former managing director for a leading risk management consultancy and a regular military officer with elite forces, Richard has held multiple senior leadership and management appointments over a 30-year career. He is currently an adviser to a UK government department on African strategy development.