Political commentator Alex Magaisa opines that the current Zimbabwean government is a result of a power-sharing “agreement” among the country’s elites.
Writing in the latest edition of the Big Saturday Read, Magaisa draws from the writings of political scientist Milan W Svolik who describes the features of authoritarian regimes. Said Magaisa:
Before his return to assume the presidency, Mnangagwa fled the country, fearing for his life or liberty. He only returned courtesy of the coup.
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While engineered by military elites, the coup needed a judge of the High Court to declare its lawfulness and to give it a veneer of legality. It also needed a Parliament for the same purposes hence the impeachment process which forced Mugabe to “resign”.
Furthermore, it needed veteran politicians who had been loyal to Mugabe to ditch and betray him in his hour of need. It also required senior government bureaucrats who had hitherto worked hand in glove with Mugabe for many years to switch allegiance to Mnangagwa.
Unsurprisingly all of them retained their roles in the power-sharing arrangement under Mnangagwa. The price that Mnangagwa paid for these retentions was continuity at the expense of change.
After the coup, and after assuming power, Mnangagwa had to enter into a power-sharing arrangement with all these actors who had assisted him.
He had to deal with the problem of power-sharing, ensuring a balancing act that satisfied his allies while helping him to contain them at the same time.
Of all these allies, the military was the most critical factor. Mnangagwa owes his presidency to Chiwenga and other military allies who took the ultimate risk which could have cost them their lives had the coup been foiled. They did not do this out of charity towards or love of Mnangagwa.
While Chiwenga became a Vice President, in real terms, it was a power-sharing arrangement which could best be described as a de facto co-presidency. There would have been undertakings or agreements between Mnangagwa and these allies.
… Mnangagwa’s government is, therefore, to be seen as a power-sharing arrangement between the ruler and his allies who brought him to power.