Celebrations broke out in the Zimbabwean capital Harare at the news of president Robert Mugabe’s resignation on Tuesday. Mugabe’s downfall has ended 37 years of his rule—now the fight is on to get rid of the whole regime.
Willet, a Zimbabwean socialist and student who was part of the celebration, spoke to Socialist Worker. “Everyone is singing in the street,” he said. “The general populous is in a happy mood, it’s our independence day after decades of Mugabe rule.
“We’re celebrating the end of a tyrant.”
On the streets of Harare people made effigies of Mugabe and his wife Grace Mugabe.
Just two weeks ago Mugabe had sacked his vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa to make way for Grace Mugabe to succeed him.
Mugabe’s resignation follows a military coup on Wednesday of last week.
It was the result of a deep divisions within the regime about how to deal with a spiralling crisis within Zimbabwean capitalism. As it deteriorated over the last few weeks, rival factions of the ruling Zanu PF party jockeyed for power.
Willet added, “The fundamental question is what happens next, because what we’ve seen is an elite war.
“The ruling system is pursuing a neoliberal agenda and we’re not celebrating that.”
The new leadership of Zanu PF that ousted Mugabe, backed by the military, want to install Mnangagwa as president. He has been a key player within the Mugabe regime—particularly in the repressive security apparatus.
As Willet said, “Mnangagwa represents the deep state, the junta and the army and he’s the mastermind of all of this.
“He is favoured by capital and imperialism.”
Mnangagwa is no solution for ordinary Zimbabweans who want social justice and democratic rights.
To deal with the slump of the 1990s Mugabe worked with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and pushed through a brutal “structural adjustment” package. He privatised state owned companies, slashed public spending on health and education and attacked workers’ rights.
The Mnangagwa faction now want to go further with free market reforms and normalise relations with Western imperialism. That’s why Western politicians and newspapers were gloating at Mugabe’s downfall, including the former colonial power Britain.
Tory prime minister Theresa May said that “as Zimbabwe's oldest friend” Britain would support the “opportunity to forge a new path”. She means supporting Mnangagwa’s policy of working with imperialism—regardless of how repressive the new government is.
There will now be a fight within the regime.
According to the Zimbabwean constitution Mugabe successor should be vice president Phelekezela Mphoko, a supporter of Grace Mugabe. But the Zanu PF leadership and military will be determined to install Mnangagwa.
But Willet said that the working class was in a stronger position to resist the ruling class. “The Mugabe regime was not providing democracy,” he said. “We’ve seen the biggest demonstrations and it will have raised the confidence of the working class.
“This is a step forward for the working class—whatever government comes next will face resistance.”