Early last November it seemed impossible that Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the longest-standing head of state in the world, could relinquish power and be ousted in such a relatively painless way by his army as well as his friends and former companions in the war of liberation, offering Zimbabwe the opportunity to turn over a new leaf after 37 years. In the months that preceded the military coup, it appeared that the ageing despot was still in complete control over the southern African nation. He also had the support of his Generation 40 allies, the youthful wing of the governing ZANU-PF party that had coalesced around the political ambitions of Mugabe’s second wife, Grace.

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