Mali, Guinea Bissau, Niger, its only sometimes that a military coup leads to greater democratization but it happens, occasionally. Burkina Faso, Burundi, were fought over extending term limits, Togo and Guinea, over succession—more often this is how these things go—a conciliation of power, rarely ever devolution to the people.
It's difficult not to be happy about the removal of, as grotesque and cartoonish a figure as Mugabe. His violent rhetoric, his ululating grandstands, his Hollywood-style motorcades, none of it will go having been missed but his departure doesn't inspire much hope for moderation. Zimbabwwe is one of the most corrupt countries in the world and what we're seeing from Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Zanu-PF and the nations military coup is a fight to keep it that way.
Under Mugabe, Rhodesia declined from a jewel in Southern Africa, with a surplus, now tarnished and left in starvation like a Weimar Republic. Poverty at seventy-two per cent, inflation peaking at well over nine digits, with the fiscal situation stretched and Mugabe unsatisfied, he squandered yet further embroiling Zimbabwe in Congo's civil war.
Today a quarter of the population are in need of food assistance, under his tenure life expediency dropped at its lowest point at 36 years, a cholera epidemic plagues the country and agriculture, the export on which its people are chiefly reliant has been decimated. The role of justice for these crimes will fall to the Almighty, Mugabe not failing the International Court orders served on Slobodan Milosevic, Ariel Sharon and Donald Rumsfeld.
The rest of what happened in Zimbabwe is history, the adoption of a new currency the "bond note" pegged with the American dollar which they adopted in 2009, the wild overspending, the land reforms, the mass-printing of money to pay off debt.
Anything but anything, has to be better the Mugabe you might say? Not so fast. Zimbabwe's headlong collapse reached its pinnacle during the land seizures in 2000. Profitable farms, once seized were redistributed to the regimes cronies, who maintained a close connection to Mugabe and lacked the experience to run them, so that they were left to fallow and scrap. GDP stagnated and incredibly, per capita calorie intake is as low as it was in 1980 when the country became independent.
Change looks as though it's on the horizon, with presidential elections due to take place this July but corruption is still rampant. Opposition is threatened, beaten, even jailed. Family members are appointed to high office, and our guarantors of "freedom" in the region are masking an internal dispute among the countries' elites, not a revolution by the people.
Power ensures access to lucrative farming, mining operations and foreign currency. Those in power have been embezzling money from mining and diamond industries for years. Mugabe even winning the national lottery in 2000. If that wasn't terrible enough, during the premiership of those still in power, up to 20,000 people were killed in the Gukurahundi massacre, the slaughter of the Ndebele people in western Zimbabwe. Mugabe as prime architect and Mnangagwa at his side, these were intended as a sustained and strategic effort to remove political opposition from the country.
Mugabe has never accepted responsibility for the Fifth Brigade who carried out the atrocities (allegedly under his explicit instructions), the closest he ever came was describing the early 1980s as a "moment of madness" right after the death of Nkomo in 1999. On one occasion blaming bandits trained by North Korea and coordinated by opposition parties, and another, a plot by the West to undermine the Zanu-PF.
It's far beyond what could be believed with a straight face but the one most positioned to succeed Mugabe in the election—that being Mnangagwa—is complicit. A hardliner who helped establish the one party state to begin with, he's quoted as saying that rule by the Zanu-PF will last "forever".
Maybe once in power Mnangagwa will push for multiparty democracy, and maybe he'll make the case for property rights and independent judiciaries. Maybe we're due for that kind of surprise but that's not how coups usually go. There is certainly still a question over who the long term leadership of Zimbabwe will fall to, but there can be little doubt that the corruption, the lies and the brutality of the regime will continue.