After 37 years in power, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe finally steps down.
Following a soft Coup d’Etat removing him from office – with the knowledge of the US and China – and after surmounting pressure and public pressure, his reigns that have bled the country dry and has seen the downfall of one of the strongest economies in Africa come to an end. It is unclear, who will govern the country from here, but it seems most likely that former Deputy President Mnangagwa, military advisors and opposition party members such as Morgan Tsvangirai will try to find common ground in an interims government.
What are the consequences for the region?
Firstly, one of the reasons to the detriment of SADEC currency exchange rates and general perception from the corporate and the investor corner will fall away and Southern Africa is finally free of any dictatorship and oppressive system. Rebuilding this once flourishing country will pose an epic task, but also an important opportunity for companies – locally and abroad – to participate and invest in Zimbabwe and its rebuilding.
Secondly, about five million Zimbabweans have left the country over the years, most of them resident and employed in South Africa, a vast majority of them will return. We will sympathise with those, who go back to their home country, but we will also suffer. Zimbabweans have been occupying key positions and have been the friendly, educated and well-spoken face of major parts of the hospitality and other service industries. They will leave big shoes to fill, a size that South Africans either are not willing or not able to fill.
The next weeks will bring clarity to the consequences and their dimension, but it will surely be one with a laughing and a crying eye!