Robert Mugabe shocked Zimbabwe and the world when he resigned as president on Tuesday, ending his 37-year grip on power.
It also plunged the nation into uncertainty, raising institutional questions over succession although the military will likely retain power for now.
Speaking to AFP, Derek Matyszak, an analyst at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies, outlined what he expected to happen next:
– What now? –
“I think we’re going to see (ousted vice president) Emmerson Mnangagwa sworn in very quickly… As far as I understand (second vice president Mphoko Phelekezela) is not in the country right now. The cabinet should meet if there’s no president or vice president and appoint one,” he said.
The current crisis was triggered by a dispute over who would succeed Mugabe, and in his resignation letter, the 93-year-old president did not suggest who would succeed him.
Whoever takes over will only be there for “an interim period” he said, noting that Mugabe’s ZANU-PF had already chosen Mnangagwa as their replacement leader to stand in elections slated for 2018.
“The acting president is only supposed to be there for an interim period, while they wait for (the ruling) ZANU-PF to nominate a replacement for Mugabe — but they have already nominated Mnangagwa as their choice for elections in 2018.”
– What of the opposition? –
“What the opposition should be doing is to use this moment to try and mobilise and lobby for the introduction of a more democratic dispensation,” said Matyszak.
In his first remarks since the military takeover, Mnangagwa had on Tuesday appeared to make overtures to the opposition, he said.
“Mnangagwa’s statement did mention that he is prepared to reach out to the opposition.”
– And the economy? –
“The new leader needs to present a friendly face to the international community. The country is on the brink of an economic meltdown. If that meltdown occurs, the military won’t get paid and you will have a possibility of another coup,” said Matyszak.
“A lot needs to be done and done very quickly.”
– Was Mugabe’s resignation expected? –
“Mugabe might have been hoping that the impeachment process would not succeed, that it might stumble in getting the numbers together.
“But I think when he saw the turnout (of lawmakers) he probably realised he’d better jump before he was pushed,” said Matyszak.