South Africa ousted one president and elected another, Ethiopia lost its prime minister, and Zimbabwe’s best-known opposition leader died.
In the span of 24 hours, three African countries saw their political landscapes completely upended: Ethiopia was shocked by the resignation of its prime minister, Zimbabwe lost its most well-known opposition leader, and South African MPs selected a new president after his predecessor was forced out of office.
In a hugely surprising move, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced Thursday that he was resigning from the position that he has held for the past six years, as well as his role as chair of the ruling party.
The last three years of his administration have been marred by state-wide protests from the Oromo, the largest ethnic group in the country, that resulted in more than 1,000 deaths, according to Human Rights Watch senior researcher Felix Horne.
In less than 24 hours, South Africa lost a president and selected a new one. Having faced increasing pressure from his own party over the past two weeks to step down following decades of corruption allegations, Jacob Zuma announced his resignation late Wednesday night.
“Make no mistake, no leader should stay beyond the time the people they serve,” Zuma said in his departure speech. “No leader should seek an easy way out because they could face a life without the perks of political office.”
When former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe relinquished his role last November after three decades in power and was temporarily replaced by then-vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, many Zimbabweans began to pour their support back into former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who led the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition party, as the country prepared for elections scheduled for mid-2018.
But Zimbabweans’ hopes for Tsvangirai were extinguished when he died late Wednesday night of colon cancer. He announced his diagnosis in June 2016 and had spent the past 18 months of his life at a treatment center in South Africa.
Mediabites Editorial – Shoaib Naqvi