Wracked by dissention and uncertainty, compounded by the dismissal of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, known by the nickname of Crocodile which he embraces, the army on Wednesday occupied strategic points in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, and deposed President Robert Mugabe, aged 93 and in power for 37 years. The army, led by General Constantino Chiwenga, said that it was not a coup. It appears as if efforts are being made to attain a peaceful and lawful transition of power from Mugabe to a government led by Mnangagwa.
The unfolding events, as they became known, show that Mnangagwa was true to his nickname. In collusion with the army, he was patiently awaiting an opportune moment to move against Mugabe who appeared determined to promote his wife, Grace Mugabe, a deeply unpopular ZANU-PF official, who represents the post-liberation ZANU-PF group, G40, to succeed him. This would have resulted in the sidelining of the army and the veterans. There was open, verbal, warfare, between these two distinct sections of the Zimbabwean ruling class. The people of Zimbabwe, downtrodden by poverty, have been unmoved by what is clearly a palace dispute.
In 1838, as former slaves were celebrating the abolition of slavery the British colonial empire, Jesuit priests of Georgetown University in Washington DC, in the US, were selling 272 slaves to Southern estates to raise funds for the University. This trade in human degradation lasted until 1865 when the institution of slavery, one of the worst crimes against humanity, was formally abolished in the US.
After much public pressure Georgetown University announced during last week, as recommended by a report it had commissioned, that it would offer a public apology, would rename two halls as Isaac Hall for Isaac Hawkins, one of the slaves sold, and as Anne Marie Becraft Hall, in honour of a 19th-century educator who founded a school for black girls in Washington. It would also give priority in admission to descendants of the 272 slaves whose names were recorded and some of whose descendants have been or are being traced.
Two weeks ago a Government team led by the President Ramotar visited Cotton Tree, West Coast Berbice. This area is populated by descendants of indentured labourers and has a substantial land problem. The President described it thus: “…historic problems which has (sic) been in the making for a long time whereby lands were given out to people and some of them sold out but no title was passed to them while some died out and some migrated and in the meantime, over the years, it was festering and beginning to cause some problems in the community itself.”
The President announced the Government’s decision to resolve the problems of the community. Under the Land Registry Act the area would be declared a “registration area.” When this is done the parcels of land occupied would be surveyed. The President announced that the Government will allocate the sum of $46 million for the survey. Upon completion of the survey the Land Court will then receive applications for title, hold sittings at which evidence of occupation will be taken and ownership granted.