After deeply flawed elections, President Robert Mugabe will retain the presidency with 61 percent of the vote, foregoing the need for a run-off. Mugabe's victory was expected, but the scope and the effectiveness of ZANU-PF's tactics (fraud, intimidation, and co-option of traditional leaders) were a surprise.
Mugabe's victory now sets the stage for a succession battle within ZANU-PF that will be the key driver of future economic policies. The two main factions are Minister of Defense Emerson Mnangagwa's hardliner/securocrat group and the so-called reformers associated with Vice President Joyce Mujuru. Mujuru will take over as de-facto head of state should the 89-year-old Mugabe die while in office, though her tenure could be short if the party discards her in favor of a securocrat to formally succeed Mugabe as president.
Unlike the mining- and agriculture-focused hardliners, Mujuru and her allies are vested in industries such as finance, retail, and hospitality that demand more rational and pragmatic economic policies to grow. As a result, a Mujuru administration could move to dilute the impact of the Indigenization Law on the banking sector and pursue more engagement with international investors -- and perhaps the IMF on a multi-year loan facility. Mujuru would probably have to concede to the securocrats their interests in diamonds, agriculture, and wildlife tourism and assure them of immunity from prosecution for human rights abuses in order to secure the reforms.
Mujuru has more popular support than the securocrat/hardliner candidates such as Mnangagwa or army chief Constantine Chiwenga. But the securocrats have the upper hand politically. Not only do they control most of ZANU-PFs coordinating committees, but they will also find it easier to secure military support. A hardline successor to Mugabe would be more brutal, but probably less ideological and would likely reverse the partial democratic gains made in recent years and move to assert their economic interests with force but a less explicitly anti-Western, resource-nationalist agenda than did Mugabe.
In this scenario, Zimbabwe becomes more of a classic kleptocracy that is a more unpredictable, onerous, and potentially dangerous destination for investors without connections, but possibly a more profitable place for those with access to those in power.
Mark Rosenberg is a senior analyst with Eurasia Group's Africa practice.
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