It seems like only yesterday when the self immolation of a Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi led to what has become known as the Arab Spring; the term given to the revolutionary wave of demonstrations, protests, and wars that occurred (and continue to) in the Arab world. But it wasn’t yesterday at all. In fact, in a month it’ll be two years since the day the “UK Times’ 2011 Person of the Year” Mohamed sacrificed himself on the day that changed the Arab World. Time sure does fly.
When the Arab Spring took full swing, I had people asking me why Zimbabweans didn’t execute a similar revolt to oust the current government and end President Robert Mugabe’s over three decade reign. Well firstly, despite what you may have heard, Uncle Bob, as he is affectionately known, is quite popular in Zimbabwe. But more than that, he’s likeable in most parts of Africa. Are they those who’d like to see him go? Of course. I think that’s the case with many a president. Just ask South Africa’s Jacob Zuma. But there are just as many, if not more, who want to see him stay.
The thing is, Africans see Comrade Mugabe as a hero mainly because he is liberating Zimbabwe’s economy. Whilst there may have been independence in as far as freedom of movement goes, economic liberation has evaded many African states. Mugabe is on a mission to rectify this. His methods are not pretty but they are effective…somewhat. In South Africa, for example, the government is having to buy land back from white farmers who didn’t buy (let’s steer clear of the word “stole”) it in the first place. Mugabe’s taking the land back. Same with the mines. Mugabe’s taking 51% of everything and [theoretically] giving it to the people. This is why Zimbabweans and Africans love him so.
But for the sake of this piece, let’s argue that Mugabe and his government were indeed unpopular, unloved, and were wanted out. Would a “Zimbabwean Spring” succeed? I don’t think so. One of the most crucial and underappreciated factors in the “successful” outcomes of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolts were these countries’ armed forces stance. They didn’t pick a side. It was a sort of laissez faire approach by their armies. This, for me, is what led to the ousting of those governments.
In Zimbabwe, this would be a different story. The military is as loyal to the government as they are to their own mothers….probably more actually. What this results in, is a Libya or Syria-esque situation. Essentially, any revolt in Zimbabwe would be brutally and mercilessly quashed unless there was some sort of third party (the West) that has a vested interest in regime change. *Queue military assistance, No-Fly zones, etc*. Last I checked there was no oil or strategic military sites in Zimbabwe to warrant such third party involvement. So, all you’d have left is the brutal and merciless quashing thing I mentioned earlier…which is not nice at all.
Long story short, we don’t like to be quashed whilst waiting for outside help. So we’ll stick to our Uncle Bob and his gang of merry men.
*Just scribbling my thoughts*
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