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Zimbabwe coup a response to corruption, 'disintegration of society and economy'

November 17, 2017

Mark Addleson

Is the coup in Zimbabwe good or bad news for the country and its people?

George Mason University professor Mark Addleson said the uprising against President Robert Mugabe is likely to create significant internal strife. But Tompson Makahamadze, a PhD candidate at George Mason’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution and a native of Zimbabwe, said the coup presents an opportunity for a new start.

Either way, momentum for the coup has been in motion for a while, said Addleson, who teaches at Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government, and is from neighboring South Africa.

“The coup by the military was occasioned by infighting between supporters of Grace Mugabe [the president’s wife] and the ousted Vice President Emerson Mnangagwa, who are both potential successors of Robert Mugabe,” Addleson said. “The end game is access to more money and power between corrupt, wealthy and privileged groups, while the ordinary citizens’ lives are devastated.”

Civil society and the economy have disintegrated, he said, “transforming Zimbabwe from bread basket to basket case in about 20 years.”

As for the coup’s impact, it will take years to restore the economy, if at all, Addleson said, adding that the coup is “unlikely to bring stability for months and could be followed by significant internal strife.”

The army is targeting criminals who are causing social and economic suffering in the country, according to a Zimbabwean army spokesman, and Addleson sees this as a hopeful sign.

The coup is good news for Zimbabweans who are tired of Mugabe's authoritarian rule, Makahamadze said.

“Many view it as a catalyst for a new beginning, a new Zimbabwe,” he said. “Moreover, it is a bloodless intervention aimed at stopping the creation of a Mugabe dynasty. As for the USA, the government should adopt a wait-and-see approach. Hopefully, the generals will hand over power to a transitional government, which must include Zimbabweans across the political divide.”

Mark Addleson can be reached at 703-993-3804 or maddleso@gmu.edu.

Tompson Makahamadze can be reached at makaham@masonlive.gmu.edu.

For more information, contact Buzz McClain at 703-727-0230 or bmcclai2@gmu.edu.

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