Potential Hot Spots: Friends With Guns in Zimbabwe

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October 15, 2006: Angola and Zimbabwe signed a military training cooperation agreement. Angola and Zimbabwe signed a defense cooperation deal in 2002, but there was little follow-through. Zimbabwe is currently looking for allies-- anywhere it can find them. Libya is a nominal ally, but since Qadaffi gave up his weapons of mass destruction, he's been far less agreeable to crossing Great Britain. Zimbabwe's dictator, Robert Mugabe, regards Britain as one of his primary enemies.

 

It may seem impossible, given Zimbabwe's runaway inflation and systemic poverty, but infighting in Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF Party has further increased instability in the country. At issue is who will succeed dictator Robert Mugabe. Two major factions have emerged. One is led by former Zimbabwean Army general Solomon Mujuru. The other is led by the government's Rural Amenities minister Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa also wants to run for president. His likely opponent is Vice-President Joice Mujuru, who is the wife of Solomon. However, other "rumors" say that General Mujuru is actually backing former Finance Minister Simba Makoni for president. Manangagwa is regarded as the "front runner." However, charges of corruption have also led to an investigation that involves Zimbabwe's intelligence agency, the Central Intelligence Organisation. Manangagwa is allegedly the target of a probe looking at graft involving ZANU-PF finances. There is another complicating factor. Mugabe has not stepped down. He has indicated he will retire when his term ends in 2008. However, the presidential election could be postponed until 2010. Meanwhile Zimbabwe is an economic disaster zone of epic proportions. The economic failure has exacerbated tribal rivalries between the Shona and Matabele. Intra-ZANU-PF political maneuvering adds yet another potentially explosive factor. The key player is Solomon Mujuru-- the retired general's military contacts mean he has plenty of friends with guns.

 

 

 

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