This week has been very volatile in the top echelons of African politics. South African President Jacob Zuma finally crumbled and resigned after his party recalled him. New President, Cyril Ramaphosa, will have to do a lot of cleaning up, especially redeeming the African National Congress’s dented image.
Still in South Africa, Zimbabwean opposition kingpin, Morgan Tsvangirai, finally lost his long fight with cancer. President Emmerson Mnangagwa was quick to pay his tribute, something not to have been envisaged under his predecessor, Robert Mugabe, who, incidentally, also recently suffered the same fate as Zuma.
But the surprise of the remarkable Thursday was the resignation of Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Unlike Mugabe and Zuma, no one had anticipated the move and many people are left guessing as to why he made such a drastic gesture.
Even as he said that his resignation was “… vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy”, none was left the wiser.
So what does it mean for Rwanda’s diplomatic relations with the three affected countries? With Ethiopia, it will likely remain “business as usual” as the two countries’ close relations are institutionalised, unlike in Johannesburg and Harare where it all depended on the whims of the leaders.
Zuma’s reign, for example, saw deteriorating relations between Rwanda and South Africa despite the close ties between the ANC and the Rwanda Patriotic Front. Today South Africa is a haven for anti-Rwandan forces that openly carry out their machinations with full impunity.
With Zuma’s departure, who was more their father figure and protector, it is hoped that a new diplomatic page will be opened. Maybe it will open Africans’ eyes to the fact that institutions are stronger than individuals.