Mugabe’s ouster: Significance for African Studies

Mugabe’s ouster is rich with possibilities for scholarly inquiry. There are more questions than answers, but after the euphoria, we can try to explain why Africa still has four rulers whose dominance is approaching four decades; four over two decades; and several over one decade. We can explore the diverse meanings of a coup and explain variations in transition from one-man authoritarian rule. For example, why did Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, who is also an almost four-decade ruler, choose not to run for another election? What does it mean to have a managed transition? What is the significance of Mugabe’s ouster for Zimbabwe, Africa, the Global South, and the world? Will Zimbabwe’s embrace of neoliberal solutions proffered by the multilaterals grow its economy? If growth results, will majority of Zimbabweans benefit, or will staggering inequality persist? Or will the strong relations with a globally assertive China offer Zimbabwe alternative economic policies to those emanating from the West? What is the meaning of national liberation and democracy? Will Zimbabwe truly democratize or replicate neo-Mugabeist dominance? Only time will tell. However, it’s clear that this transition, while welcomed by majority of Zimbabweans, and celebrated by those tired of Mugabe’s sit-tight government, is like most coups, neither constitutional, nor democratic. It was just the only way to root out an autocrat without major bloodshed and political instability.

For a brief synopsis of my thoughts on Zimbabwe after Mugabe's ouster, read my brief contribution to #AfricaYearinReview2017, Wilson Center's Africa Program publication of  essays on significant 2017 developments and implications for US-Africa relations. Read this and the other essays at: Africa Year in Review 2017


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