Harare – Will Donald Trump’s shock #USElection2016 win mean Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe is headed for victory AGAIN in 2018?
Forget #BondNotes and bungling prophets, this is the question at the back of many Zimbabweans’ minds as they digest the news of a victory many did not see coming.
Here’s a look at the some of the Zimbabwean reaction to Trump’s win:
As of midday, Mugabe has not publicly reacted. (That doesn’t mean he’s not pleased: it may just mean he’s up late. There has been at least one call for someone to “wake up the Prez” for a reaction). Jonathan Moyo, Mugabe’s ex-spin doctor, seemed pretty pleased with a Trump win: he talked about Trump “shaming and sending liberals into hiding”. Moyo also said Hillary Clinton had co-sponsored ZIDERA, the US Congress Act passed in 2001 that allowed for the suspension of budgetary support to Zimbabwe.
zanu-PF MP Psychology Maziwisa told the state ZBC’s lunchtime news bulletin that Trump’s win was “particularly good for Zimbabwe”. On the same programme, the editor of the pro-Mugabe Herald newspaper Caesar Zvayi said Clinton had “blood on her hands”.
The ex-editor of the state Chronicle, Mduduzi Mathuthu opted for a cautiously optimistic tweet: “[Trump] could turn out great you know.”
Yes and no.There was certainly a lot of disappointment among well-known critics of Mugabe at the Trump win. As the inevitability of a Trump win dawned, advocate Fadzayi Mahere asked on Twitter whether there wasn’t a diaspora on Mars to go to.
Author Pettina Gappah said: “This just cannot be.” As for Zimbabwean publisher Trevor Ncube, he reached for a drink – something stronger than coffee, according to his TL.
But reactions can’t be totally explained along MDC/Zanu-PF lines. Well-known lawyer and analyst Alex Magaisa talked of an “anti-establishment win”.
Broadcaster and talkshow host Zororo Makamba reminded his followers that he’d predicted a Trump win earlier this year because “voters are irrational and vote based on emotion”. That will ring bells to many Zimbabweans looking back to the 2013 elections: how many voters ticked the Mugabe box because he fulminated against gays and cancelled years of accumulated rates’ bills? Or because Tsvangirai’s messy love life and political miscalculations made him someone they couldn’t look up to?
Since #bondnotes are big on Zimbabwean minds at the moment, it was only to be expected they’d figure in the discussion. These unpopular notes are likely to be introduced before the year is out and Zimbabwe’s central bank says they’ll be on a par with the US. So: if the US dollar loses in value on the back of a Trump win, does that mean that one bond note will be worth more than a US dollar, as one Zimbabwean asked? That’s unlikely, since the bond note is predicted to devalue the moment it hits the market. Media entrepreneur Nigel Mugamu tweeted a valid concern though: “What if someone uses [the devaluation of the US] to justify introduction of #BondNotes?”
There are certainly parallels between Trump’s win and Mugabe’s last victory back in 2013.Overly-complacent, the main MDC believed then that voters had no choice but to recognise and reward the positive gains made under the power-sharing government that had been in place since 2009. But voters didn’t.
Discount the rigging and the bussing-in of voters and you still get the inescapable fact that many in Zimbabwe’s great rural heartlands (and beyond) still voted for the then nearly-90 year-old who promised jobs and fulminated against gays, journalists and “illegal Western sanctions” ie: much of the rest of the world.
Will these voters vote for Mugabe again in 2018 (if he’s still alive)? Quite possibly.