By Tomáš Tengely-Evans
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President Mnangagwa tries to woo big business and the white farmers

This article is over 6 years, 4 months old
Issue 2588
Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa gets chummy with South African president Jacob Zuma
Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa gets chummy with South African president Jacob Zuma (Pic: GovernmentZA/Flickr)

Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa was set to tell the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week that the country is “open for business”.

It lays bare Mnangagwa’s real aims after he came to office in a military coup against former dictator Robert Mugabe last November.

Many workers and the poor wanted Mugabe out. There was a window of opportunity to raise their own demands.

But Mnangagwa wants to snuff that out. He has called for restoring relations with former colonial power Britain and rejoining the Commonwealth, a relic of the Empire.

“What they’ve lost with Brexit they can come and recover from Zimbabwe,” he told the bosses’ Financial Times newspaper.


British capitalism is not looking to replace European markets with Zimbabwe, a country whose economy was destroyed by decades of imperialist plunder.

Mnangagwa himself is mainly looking to Chinese investment.

He plans high level talks in the Chinese capital Beijing soon after Davos to discuss “mega deals in infrastructure and railways”.

Mnangagwa wants to revive Zimbabwean capitalism by pushing through wide-ranging free market reforms. For his plan to succeed, he needs the West to end sanctions and give access to financial markets.

This means that winning approval from world rulers at Davos is key. And it’s also why he plans to financially compensate descendants of the old racist regime, the white farmers, some of whom lost their land in the 2000s.

Mnangagwa, the regime’s former torturer in chief, is no alternative for the Zimbabwean working class. His rise to power was a product of a bitter faction fight within the ruling Zanu PF party over how to deal with the crisis of Zimbabwean capitalism.


Mugabe began as a hero of struggle against colonialism and white minority rule. Yet once capitalism nose-dived in the 1980s, he compromised with imperialism, implemented some free market reforms and increasingly became a dictator.

This failed to solve Zimbabwean capitalism’s crisis—and came to a head last autumn.

Mnangagwa needs to “open up” Zimbabwean capitalism to foreign investment—and consolidate the position of the new ruling faction.

Mnangagwa said, “The entire economy is open except for two minerals—diamonds and platinum.”

These are both industries that the military profited from, the same military that brought him to power and now staff the cabinet.

The only solution is for working class people to assert their own independent demands—and bring down Zanu PF’s whole rotten regime.


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