Country Risk

Talks with opposition likely to worsen divisions within Zimbabwe’s ruling party and heighten government instability

06 February 2019

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa (left) and Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga salute a rally in Murombedzi, Zvimba, Mashonaland West, on 24 November 2018. Source: Jekesai Njikizana/AFP/Getty Images

Key Points

  • Talks with the opposition are unlikely to be successful, as President Mnangagwa will be pressured by opposition leaders to take strong action against military personnel who carried out attacks on protesters and who are still carrying out human rights abuses in Harare and Bulawayo.
  • President Mnangagwa is unlikely to accede to opposition demands to form a government of national unity, as doing so would weaken his position and distance him from the influential security establishment within his party and his cabinet.
  • A decrease in the fuel price would indicate a decreasing risk of further protests and would lead to the complete withdrawal of the military from the major cities.


Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on 6 February hosts a meeting at State House in the capital, Harare, of all leaders of political parties that participated in the presidential election of 30 July 2018.

He is highly likely to face calls from opposition leaders to take strong action against military personnel who participated in a crackdown that resulted in the deaths of 12 people who were protesting against the 150% petrol price hike announced on 12 January. Mnangagwa is unlikely to accede to these demands, as this would further distance him from military figures within the ruling party and in his cabinet, and therefore would increase the likelihood of an attempted coup d'état.

The day following the announcement of the fuel price hike in January, President Mnangagwa set off on a four-nation international tour which began in Russia and was set to end in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum later the same month. His trip was aimed at raising money to deal with the liquidity crisis that Zimbabwe has been facing since before he took office in November 2017. Specifically, Mnangagwa aimed to secure a loan, after neighbouring South Africa declined a request to give Zimbabwe USD1.6 billion in the middle of December 2018.

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