It will be a first for Zimbabwe’s voters: The name of Robert Mugabe won’t be on the ballot when elections are held on July 30. But the military-backed system that kept the former leader in power for decades, and then pushed him out, is still in control. That is the conundrum facing a southern African country anxious to shed its image as an international pariah, and to draw the foreign aid and investment needed for an economic revival. The government promises a free and fair vote and the military, whose 2017 takeover led to Mugabe’s resignation, says it won’t stray from the barracks. Some Zimbabweans, though, wonder how much things have really changed.
They ask whether a political establishment accused of vote-rigging and state-sponsored violence over a generation would accept an election outcome— that is, an opposition victory— that might damage its interests or even expose it to prosecution for alleged human rights abuses. The military’s economic interests include the alleged involvement of security forces in Zimbabwe’s diamond-mining sector, which Mugabe himself once said had been plundered of billions of dollars in revenue.
Then there is the uneasy legacy of the military’s November takeover. It sent euphoric Zimbabweans into the streets to celebrate and was later described as a coup by Mugabe, who quit as impeachment proceedings loomed in parliament. The military intervention was mostly peaceful and tacitly supported by other countries, but critics compared it to letting a genie out of the bottle: Once the military steps brazenly into politics, why wouldn’t it do so again?
Full Article: BBG Direct.