Leading Japanese academic, Sadaharu Kataoka has pinned hopes on the impending election to correct excesses of the military intervention that forced former President Robert Mugabe to resign last year.
By Tinotenda Munyukwi
In an interview with journalists in Harare yesterday, Kataoka, who commands vast expertise in African politics, maintained that the military intervention, which led to the resignation of Mugabe was in actual fact a coup, which was strategised by the army to pressurise Mugabe to resign.
Kataoka said the coming election, which is expected sometime this year can act as an exorcism ceremony to clear the Emmerson Mnangagwa-led administration, which has suffered a local and international legitimacy crisis based on its controversial ascendency to power under what he termed a “smart coup”.
“I can say it’s a military coup, but I think they were very prepared, because they didn’t use a violent method, but it was military pressure and finally he (Mugabe) resigned, so I think it was a very strategic, prepared and smart coup.
“Moving forward, the true ultimate stage that will determine Zimbabwe’s progression forward is this election. It is to show the world that this is the new moment because if anything bad happens in this election, then it is over,” he said.
Mnangagwa, from his inauguration speech on November 24 last year, launched a diplomatic offensive in a bid to lure investors into the country, but the move has not yielded the desired results, with most prospective business partners taking cautious steps to only engage the country fully on condition that it holds a free and fair election.
Kataoka said the diplomatic offensive can only reap some fruits if the country’s image developed during Mugabe’s reign, which encompasses gross violations of human and corporate rights, is transformed.
“Integration with the rest of the world is possible. In the 1980s, Zimbabwe was a good country and we had Japanese investors here, but after the autocratic rule, they all left, but I can tell you that they can come back,” he said.
Kataoka is a professor in the school of international and liberal studies with the Waseda University in Japan and he is also the director of the Africa Society of Japan.