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Robert Mugabe’s long goodbye

The street parties greeting Mugabe's exit and the mass demonstrations last weekend have unleashed a popular energy that will make it difficult for the new government to bring back the police state.

Zimbabwe's army is basking in its popularity as engineer of the 'second liberation' and for putting the police in their place.

Mnangagwa's call for Zimbabweans of all political colours to join the reconstruction effort suggests that he could offer a political breathing space on Friday.

Tsvangirai has suggested that Mnangagwa has the opportunity be the Deng Xiaoping to Mugabe's Mao Zedong.

The comparison is not so far-fetched.

Deng was a stern authoritarian but a pragmatist on ideological debates coining the slogan: 'It is doesn't matter what colour the cat is as long as it catches mice.'

Another Deng slogan: 'To get rich is glorious' might also find favour with the Mnangagwa team.

Mnangagwa and the people around him are businesslike, with close ties to big companies and banks in the region.

Over the past year, they have met diplomats from China, Europe and the United States to discuss the importance of stabilising the country after Mugabe's exit and getting investment flowing again.

Whether this will mean a credible and broad-based transition is another matter.

The agenda and duration of that transition, and the extent of opposition participation in it, will emerge in the coming days.

If it can gain national support, the possibility of the country bringing back millions of its well-educated and entrepreneurial people and some of their capital looms large and will hugely boost the recovery effort.-Africa Confidential

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