When president Robert Mugabe is on the move you’d better get out of his way. Some face police harassment; others have been fatally knocked down. Zimbabweans refer to their leader’s motorcade as “Bob and the Wailers” because of the sirens that accompany its rapid route. Police outriders clear the way on bmw motorbikes; numerous officers have been killed performing the dangerous duty since Mugabe became prime minister in 1980. The convoy also typically includes police cars, a fleet of Mercedes-Benzes, open-top Toyota Land Cruisers containing soldiers and an ambulance at the rear.
“The motorcade depicts Mugabe as a despot who thinks his movements matter more than those of the rest of the citizens,” says Dr Pedzisai Ruhanya, director of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute in Harare. “He is also seen as a leader who cannot mingle with the public for fear of attacks for his mismanagement of the economy and thirst for power during 36 years of misrule.”
There are signs, however, that the wheels of the motorcade may soon stop turning. The increasingly frail 92-year-old is struggling to maintain his once iron grip on both his party, Zanu-PF, and the extensive military that keeps him in power. Recent protests have rocked Zimbabwe as taxi drivers, traders and civil- society activists united under the This Flag campaign led by charismatic Pastor Evan Mawarire. Meanwhile, veterans of Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence – formerly Mugabe’s most fervent supporters – have also turned their backs on him.
“The life of the regime is under serious threat,” says Dr Ruhanya. “The ongoing succession fight in Zanu-PF means that it will be difficult to have a cohesive regime. The centre appears to be eroding.”
Date: 7 October
Candidates: The second election since the introduction
of reforms designed to spare Morocco the upheaval of the Arab Spring. The mildly Islamist Justice and Development party were the biggest winners last time and are likely to be again.
Issues: Austerity measures have been unpopular and young people still have too little to do. Outside Morocco, the death of Polisario Front commander Mohamed Abdelaziz may mean movement on the question of Western Sahara.
Monocle comment: The slight shift of constitutional balance from absolute monarchy towards parliamentary democracy has helped Morocco avoid chaos.
South Africa’s local elections saw a shift in its stagnant politics with the Democratic Alliance, led by Mmusi Maimane, unseating the entrenched African National Congress (ANC) in several municipalities. In Nelson Mandela Bay, 770km east of Cape Town and once considered the ANC’s heartland, new mayor Athol Trollip hopes to reverse the fortunes of an urban area plagued by mismanagement.
Why did support for the Democratic Alliance rise in Nelson Mandela Bay?
It was down to our track record on the Western Cape. The people of Nelson Mandela Bay have rejected 22 years of poor governance and endorsed our offer of hope and change. South African politics will never be the same again.
What does this mean for South Africa?
This is an endorsement of our hard-earned democracy. It shows that if the people of South Africa want change they can vote for it.
How will you govern differently to the ANC?
We will deliver better services, stop corruption and grow the economy to create jobs. We will do so with integrity and honesty; the time of broken anc promises is over.
What will city hall do to boost the economy?
This area has huge potential: it should be a tourism, economic and industrial hotspot and I look forward to achieving that during the next five years. The economy will grow and jobs will be created when we increase investment, upgrade infrastructure and create rate incentives.
The Bank of Palestine will be the first Arab bank in Latin America when it opens in the Chilean capital of Santiago next year. It will serve close to a million Palestinians living on the continent.