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Press review Robert Mugabe Zimbabwe Kenya

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African press review 18 November 2017


Robert Mugabe appears to be hanging on to the Zimbabwean presidency. But time and support may be running out for the veteran leader. Will whoever eventually replaces Mugabe be able to do anything to slow the country's economic decline? And what happened yesterday in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi?

NewsDay, the Harare-based paper which yesterday assured readers that Robert Mugabe had agreed to step down and would be living in exile in South Africa this morning, has had to change its tune.

Mugabe was not on a plane to a life of exile yesterday, he was in Harare at a university graduation ceremony. NewsDay has the pictures to prove it.

But the paper suggests it's only a matter of time.

The main headline reads "Mugabe must go," that's on the basis of a vox pops in which "citizens" say it is time for change.

Then there's the ruling Zanu-PF statement to the effect that Mugabe is too old for the job. And NewsDay also reports that the nation's war veterans have called on the cornered leader to step down today or face the wrath of Zimbabweans in a planned rally to oust the only leader Zimbabwe has known since independence in 1980.

Christopher Mutsvangwa, chairman of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association, fired from Mugabe’s cabinet in March last year, said if his former boss does not resign under the terms proposed by the military, the people will push him out today.

Mutsvangwa also called upon the Southern African Development Community meeting in Botswana to expel Foreign Minister Walter Mzembi from its meetings, saying he had no mandate to represent the people of Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) say significant progress has been made in their operation to weed out criminals associated with President Mugabe, the front page of the state-run Herald tells us.

No names were given. The criminals, the ZDF said in a statement, were committing crimes that were causing social and economic suffering in Zimbabwe.

What next for Zimbabwe?

The main story in South Africa's BusinessDay says that there's a danger that what the paper calls Zimbabwe's "soft coup" could well lead to a mere shifting of deck chairs within the ruling Zanu-PF party, allowing Emmerson Mnangagwa, the vice-president Mugabe sacked; to finally take the prize that he has so long been waiting for.

However, BusinessDay continues, it is clear that many Zimbabweans are hoping that the negotiations currently underway will produce more than this. The situation presents an opportunity for different interests across the political spectrum to come together in an interim administration that could work to stabilise the situation ahead of planned elections.

Further down the BusinessDay front page, another story looks at the numbers behind Zimbabwe's economic decline, suggesting that the euphoria associated with the possibility of an end to four decades of Mugabe rule must be tempered with a hard look at the underlying economic realities.

Zimbabwe has fallen from 10th to 20th in the African economic pecking order under Mugabe. Agriculture has collapsed, inflation remains off the dial and more than three million people have been forced to leave the country in search of work.

BusinessDay warns that, even if Mugabe can be dislodged without provoking a civil war, who and what follows him may not necessarily be much better.

Chaos in Kenya as Raila returns

The Kenyan capital Nairobi was at a standstill yesterday, according to the Daily Nation.

The paper says the standoff between supporters of opposition National Super Alliance leader Raila Odinga and the police forced Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and many businesses in Nairobi city to close.

The Standard reports that deaths, injuries, chaos and destruction characterised Odinga’s return to the country yesterday from a trip abroad, as police and his supporters engaged in daylong confrontations.

At least five people were killed, while scores were injured and a police lorry was among vehicles torched by the irate supporters after they overwhelmed anti-riot officers.