As jubilation erupts in the streets at the resignation of Zimbabwes president how will the downfall affect the rulers of Uganda, DRC, Rwanda and Burundi?
The fate of Robert Mugabe, who ran Zimbabwe with iron discipline for more than 30 years, will send a chill down the spines of other autocratic African leaders who may have out-stayed their welcome.
General Constantino Chiwenga, the armed forces chief, kicked away the military prop supporting Mugabes presidency last week. Mass protests in Harare, Bulawayo and other cities showed the president had lost popular support. On Tuesday, Mugabes party comrades began the process of impeaching him, leading finally to his long overdue resignation.
Yoweri Museveni, Ugandas president, is one leader with reason to feel uneasy. Like Mugabe, he came to power on the back of a guerrilla struggle. Museveni has stubbornly clung to office since 1986, abolishing presidential term limits, emasculating the political opposition, and curbing media freedoms. He won a fifth, consecutive term last year amid widespread, credible claims of voter fraud and intimidation.
In a country of nearly 40 million people, where the average age is 15, most people were not born when Museveni first took office. At 73, he is 20 years younger than Mugabe. But his kindred liberation-era outlook, and, for example, his Mugabe-ish record of homophobia, appears anachronistic to younger generations of the Facebook age.
Speaking recently to mark 31 years in power Museveni showed disdain for modern notions of democratic accountability. According to the Zambian Observer, he told his audience: I hear some people saying that Im their servant. Im not a servant of anybody. I am a freedom fighter. I am fighting for myself and for my beliefs.
Andrew Mwenda, writing in Ugandas Independent Magazine, said Museveni has avoided some of Mugabes mistakes. Museveni has actually disbanded the old guard in the NRM [National Resistance Movement Ugandas Zanu-PF equivalent] and the Uganda Peoples Defence Force ... While the military leaders of Zimbabwe are all from the old guard who fought the bush war, Museveni has purged these people.
Mwenda said Museveni had also sacked his most potentially troublesome challenger, Amama Mbabazi, a veteran former prime minister with similar standing to Emmerson Mnangagwa, the man who has replaced Mugabe as Zanu-PF leader.
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