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“Anticipation for change swirls in Zimbabwe”
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“Anticipation for change swirls in Zimbabwe”

Events and reports over the past two weeks have left Zimbabweans scrambling to sort fact from rumour, reports Kiyara Matambanadzo, 16, a Correspondent from Harare in Zimbabwe. The biggest question is what comes next.

The unrest that had taken over Zimbabwe in the past few years came to a tumultuous head within the space of the past one and a half weeks.

The people of Zimbabwe have long been in a place where they are wary and mistrustful of any sort of change or shift within their ruling party. The issue is that Zimbabweans have endured such a severely peculiar —for lack of a better word— social, economic and political situation that has been a result of many accumulating factors. The most glaringly obvious of these factors is that our President R. G. Mugabe has been the only ruler of  Zimbabwe for the past 37 years since Zimbabwe’s declared independence in 1980.

There is a problem inherent in such a fact. Imagine a people who have known – in terms of people under 40 – only one leader and only one system for the whole of their lives. Or, in the case of citizens over 40, they have known two systems: One was a colonial rule that oppressed them, and a second rule was so long that by that fact alone it may even be described as oppressive.

The events that have transpired in the past one and a half weeks have brought about a state of uncertainty in Zimbabwe. It all began in August when Vice-president Emerson Mnangagwa was flown to South Africa for urgent medical care amid reports that he had been poisoned.

This event in itself did not cause problems. The problem was caused by stories that started circulating about the source of the alleged poisoning, and the confusion and contradictions that arose from those rumours and denials.

The issue seemed to be over until, at an event a few weeks later, the Vice-president said without hesitation that he had been poisoned. This left people in a frenzy trying to figure out what the truth was. Though the facts were quickly cleared, the re-opened debate opened a way for many within the party to quickly jump to the First Family’s defense and for division to develop between the Vice-presidents.

Tensions rose high within the ruling party and on Tuesday 7th November Vice President Emerson Mnangagwa was fired from his post after he allegedly displayed conduct that was traitorous to the ruling party, including leading a faction wishing to depose the President and booing the First Lady at a rally.

At this same rally, the First Lady called for the sacking of Vice-president Emerson Mnangagwa and a day later her suggestion was backed fully in a statement made by the leader of the Youth League. The same statement called for the elevation of the First Lady to the post of Vice-president.

This was shocking to the nation of Zimbabwe, as the sacked Vice-president had always been strongly for the ruling party. The firing of the Vice-president was followed by a purge within the ruling party ZANU PF, where many members associated with the sacked Vice-president were removed from their posts. The abruptness of these actions led many to believe that the President was simply trying to clear the way for his wife to succeed him.

On 14 November 2017, army tanks and armoured vehicles carrying heavily armed soldiers were seen heading towards the capital, Harare, as well as blocking off strategic exits around the city. On 15 November 2017 Zimbabwe woke up to a statement being read by Major General Moyo that urged the people of Zimbabwe to remain calm. He assured them that the President was safe in his home, and while they were only targeting key ‘criminals’ surrounding the President, movement around the CBD was to be limited.

Later that day it was reported that Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo, Saviour Kasukuwere, Education Minister Jonathan Moyo and Head of Youth League Kudzanayi Chipanga were arrested and taken into custody. On 16 November 2017 the President of South Africa sent an envoy of senior government officials to speak with President Mugabe and General Chiwenga so that they could come up with a peaceful solution to the conflict.

These developments have left Zimbabweans both uncertain about their future and excited for any sort of change in their country. Most of all it has left us all praying that Zimbabwe will be set to the path that returns it to its former glory.

Photo credit: Colin Perkel

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About me: I am a teenaged Zimbabwean citizen. In an environment where people only put stock in doctors and lawyers as successful and influential members of society, I aspire to be an impacting member of Africa and the world by addressing the harsh truths of society today. My ambition as of now is to be able to break out of the stigmatic bond of being an African girl child and allow others to do the same.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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