Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe recently returned from Singapore, where he may have traveled because he is seriously ill. The Zimbabwe Independent reports that the 88-year-old longstanding leader might have prostate cancer, swallow ankles, and pressure in his eyes.
But, don't be fooled: Robert Mugabe is not dying. Or at least that's what he wants everyone to believe, what he tries to convince himself. Dictators never believe they will ever leave the land they fought so hard to obtain.
Even if rumors of Mugabe's unstable health are false, and some might hope they are since they cost the Zimbabwean Mail news editor his job, the president might not survive a political challenge. He has received pressure from a new constitution which is currently being written for his country in the UK, and the new set of laws will go into effect next year, when the current parliamentary mandate will end.
In addition, opinion polls suggest Prime Minister Morgan Tsvanagirai, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidate and bitter rival of Mugabe, is likely to win a democratic election.
Mugabe has respondedby suggesting that the country hold early elections. But these elections are unlikely to happen without a new constitution and set of laws ready to rule the country.
Let Mugabe and his crew believe whatever makes them feel better. But for the international community and Zimbabwe, this is no time for daydreaming. Mugabe’s days are over, both from a health and political perspective. The country needs to prepare for what comes next, otherwise the transitional period will be characterized by disorder.
Every possible scenario will make the country shudder and generate attention in Western media.
Scenario number one is that Mugabe dies before the election, without leaving a clear successor and a new constitution in place. His terrifying Defense Minister, Emmerson Mnagagwa, believes he should succeed Mugabe, but not everyone in Mugabe’s party (ZANU-PF) agrees. Without unanimity, the party will fall apart, along with the already weak coalition with the rival MDC. This could destablize the country until the constitution is ready. Meanwhile, the country's astronomical debt will rise and foreign investments will cease.
Under scenario number two, current Vice-President Joyce Mujure would succeed Mugabe after he dies. This is unlikely to occur, since Mugabe does not appear to have plans to hand over the baton to her.
In the final scenario, the current mandate would end in May 2013 and with a new constitution in Zimbabwe, the country would vote for its new leader: Morgan Tsvangirai. Even without a direct order from Mugabe, the country's army, formed by veterans who fought against the UK presence in the country back in the 70s, could fight independently against the new president.
The international community and Zimbabwe must be careful for whathappens next. After 32 years of a one-man regime, Zimbabwe is going to be a totally different country.