After the tyrant

What Happpens After Mugabe? Can Mugabe rise from the ashes?

by Geoff Hill


The book is not just another tirade on President Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF’s tyranny in Zimbabwe. The painful attention to detailing the tragedy that is present day Zimbabwe is not the thrust. It is merely regurgitated to locate the arduous task of projecting scenarios for change and the imperatives associated with rebuilding the country in a polarised society.
The first-hand accounts of ordinary Zimbabweans provide a depressing backdrop to a country that promised so much at liberation.

It is a thought-provoking book that draws on research from a battery of independent-minded commentators, civil society actors and diplomats across several continents.

You may not always agree with his analysis but Geoff Hill provides background and insights into major historical events that have shaped Zimbabwean politics. It is hard to knock its authenticity.

The complicity of Britain during the Matabeleland massacre or gukurahundi is likened to a similar travesty evidenced during the Rwandan genocide. The British high commissioner to Harare at the time of the gukurahundi, Sir Martin Ewans, recollects how London had instructed him “to steer clear of it” when speaking to Mugabe. “I think that Matabeleland was a side issue,” he is quoted as saying and confirms that Britain was just too keen that “Zimbabwe should be a success story”. The account of the massacre of an estimated 40 000 people illustrates the need to balance retribution and reconciliation.

The opposition is not spared Hill’s wrath as he grapples with plausible solutions to rescue the country from the ashes. The book is not a blueprint for rebuilding Zimbabwe’s education and health systems, restoring the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, among others. But it does present tangible options and interrogates the difficult choices facing those who have fled their country—juxtaposing patriotism with a despairing and bullied populace who feel cheated by the revolution.

His take on the emotive land issue is oversimplified and buys into the thinking that the appeal of a life in the rural hinterland is waning. The policy choices of the ruling elite are ridiculed—not without justification.

What Happens After Mugabe? was inspired, the author says, by the centrality of planning, preparing and training people—primarily citizens of Zimbabwe both at home and abroad—for the post-Mugabe era.

It goes some way in creating a platform with which to engage and understand Zimbabwe’s current crisis.

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