All of Zimbabwe wondering whether their Crocodile can change its scales

During yesterday’s celebrations over the fall of Zimbabwe’s dictator, I was given pause. A good friend sent an email gently chastising my optimism that the end of Mugabe would spark the rebuilding of his country. He believes one despot is simply being replaced with another.

My friend’s perspective has been shaped by a merciless massacre which occurred 30 years ago this Saturday. On November 25th, 1987, the Olive Tree and New Adam farms were attacked by military dissidents who hacked 16 missionaries and their children to death. Among the defenceless victims were my friend’s wife, his two sisters and his nieces and nephews.

The man who engineered the obscenity, my friend avers, was Zimbabwe’s president-in-waiting Emmanuel “Crocodile” Mnangagwa. So he has every right to be cynical about the country’s future. As do thousands of others whose families were ripped apart by Zimbabwe’s long and acrimonious war and Mugabe’s subsequent misrule.

But as Rwanda, and indeed, Mandela’s South Africa shows us, when reconciliation is genuine, the seemingly impossible can happen. We know that love always trumps hate. In the same way that good always beats evil. And perhaps even crocodiles can also change their scales.

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