Once known as the “breadbasket of Africa” as well as the education pinnacle of the continent, Zimbabwe may once again have a chance at genuine economic growth after decades of decline, a former Zimbabwean High Court judge has said.
Judge Chris Greenland in an exclusive interview with The Patriot this week expressed hope for Zimbabwe during the post-Mugabe era, adding that there is a lot of investment earmarked for Zimbabwe under the new dispensation.
Zimbabwean nationals both in the diaspora and in Zimbabwe celebrated endlessly when Mugabe tendered his resignation this week, with many showing little remorse after Mugabe’s fall from grace.
“Zimbabwe is a country full of potential and one can easily say it is a skills hub in many areas, hence investment opportunity will surface which could see Zimbabwe outgrowing South Africa within the next five years,” he said.
Greenland noted that Mugabe enjoys great support on the continent, despite the limited following back home.
But despite the joyous mood and sense of relief in Zimbabwe, Greenland said there is an elephant in the room that the new leadership must address: the mass political killings over the years.
“That is the elephant in the room, in fact, it is the reason why ZANU-PF could not give up power. They know very well that people will demand justice for past injustices. Zimbabwe will need something like South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission to remove the elephant from the room,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s Central Investigation Operation(CIO) has been accused over the years of mass political killings as well as silencing those who question the ruling regime of Mugabe.
Zimbabwe was a significant agricultural exporter up until 2000, when Mugabe encouraged the violent seizure of white-owned farms, triggering food production shortages and widespread famine.
Now, over half of the country’s irrigable land — once lush with maize, cotton, tobacco, roses and sugarcane — is underutilized due to poorly-managed agricultural reforms, according to a 2016 report by Zimbabwe’s auditor general.
Coup or not?
Greenland is of the view that the military’s decision to intervene should not be construed as a military coup.
“There has been no bloodshed and the military did not target a government takeover or any government structures, so that in itself rules out the possibility of a coup. It might have looked like a coup, but it was not one. Also, if it was a coup, the military would not gone to Mugabe and discuss their plans with him, it would have been an ambush type of operation. Mugabe would also not have defied them openly on national television. For me it was an extraordinary political move to get the President to stand down,” he said.
Is Mnangagwa the right man?
Incoming President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been a long-time confidant of Mugabe and many see him as an extension of Mugabe.
Known, as crocodile, Mnangagwa has promised to run the affairs of the country different from the way Mugabe did.
“I do not think he would want to end up like Mugabe. Of course they worked together over the years, but he knows that this is a chance for him to make his mark and cement his legacy”.
Greenland said Mugabe’s troubles started when he fired Mnangagwa.
“He allowed his wife[Grace] to start power mongering within their gang knowing very well she is not part of it,” he said.
After returning from his two-week exile in South Africa, Mnangagwa told Zimbabweans that he will focus on creating jobs in a country where some estimates say 80% of people are unemployed.
“We want to grow our economy, we want peace, we want jobs, jobs, jobs,” he told a cheering crowd in Harare this week.
While in exile, according to Mnangagwa, Mugabe made contact with him and invited him to return to Zimbabwe for a discussion on the political events in the nation.
“I told the President that I would not return home now until I am satisfied of my personal security, because of the manner and treatment given to me upon being fired. Given the events that followed my dismissal on Monday 6 th November 2017 at 4.00pm, my security details assigned to me and at my residency were immediately withdrawn. This was contrary to all the protocols that have exited in Zimbabwe to former State Vice Presidents of the Republic of Zimbabwe.”
Mnangagwa will be sworn in as interm-president of Zimbabwe today