A violent crackdown in Zimbabwe

Emmerson Mnangagwa © Getty images
Mnangagwa: meet the new boss

Zimbabwe remains on edge following a violent crackdown on fuel-price protests that has left 12 people dead, says Joseph Cotterill in the Financial Times. There are rumours that the “days of beatings and arrests carried out by soldiers against opposition and civic activists” are leading to a split within the ruling Zanu-PF party and in the security forces.

After he replaced Robert Mugabe as Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa promised a “new Zimbabwe”, says Panashe Chigumadzi in The New York Times. Hopes he would deliver this have “died” – the country is mired in an economic crisis and Mnangagwa “has turned out to be no different from the strongman he served for decades”. Even the hope he would be the kind of “decisive benevolent dictator” the economist Dambisa Moyo has argued African countries need has been dashed as the new regime “has not only closed Zimbabwe for business but also violently shut down any chance for meaningful civic engagement”.

It was “always naïve” to think Mugabe’s departure would solve everything, says The Daily Telegraph, but there is a “great deal of international goodwill towards Zimbabwe” that President Mnangagwa could have tapped into had he chosen to “break with the corrupt and despotic past”. The country “desperately needs a return of Western investors and of the middle-class professionals forced to flee abroad”. Western countries must “make it clear” that Mnangagwa must deliver his promised reform agenda or “remain an international pariah, just like his old boss”.