I HAVE been glued to the television this week watching happenings in Zimbabwe.

It has been absolutely incredible and there are so many strands to the story it would be difficult to know where to begin.

But while getting rid of Robert Mugabe is huge, I wonder what difference it will really make in the end.

This tyrant was the complete opposite of Nelson Mandela. Mandela united South Africa in a spirit of reconciliation, forgiveness and tolerance for people of all races – both those who had been oppressed and those who had been the oppressors.

Mugabe ruled with hate and a thirst for revenge and personal gain.

He became president of a wealthy, thriving country. He turned on the whites first – and how terrifying it must have been to be a white farmer during the period that he unleashed his dogs of war on them to kill and steal and rape the land.

But that wasn’t enough for
Mugabe. Soon he was turning on other black people, too. In fact, anyone who didn’t agree with him literally risked their lives.

Thousands of people have died, if not by his direct order then certainly by his tacit approval. And the horrifying thing is that we can only talk in generalities because nobody will ever know the exact number of brutal deaths – how many gallons of blood he has on his hands.

But, of course, those same hands were spotlessly clean in the literal sense because Mugabe and his wife Grace lived the good life while people just outside their walls starved to death.

He could afford the oils and perfumes to keep the scent of death from his nostrils as Grace was travelling abroad to shop.

She moulded her life on that of Imelda Marcos of the Phillipines, the wife of another tyrant, who gathered 2,700 pairs of expensive shoes while her people starved.

In recent days Mugabe has almost become a figure of fun. Refusing initially to resign, holding a cabinet meeting to which nobody was coming – it was just ridiculous.

He started to seem more like a doddering old man than the brutal tyrant of an oppressive regime.

Mugabe is gone and the people of the world will join with Zimbabwe in cheering loudly.

But what of the future? Zanu-PF is still the reigning party. The new leader is Emmerson Mnangagwa, known as the Crocodile.

For 37 years he was Mugabe’s right-hand man and one of the staunchest supporters of the leader.

He not only knows where the bodies are buried but, I am sure, put many of them in the grave himself.

He has not proved himself a brave leader so far – refusing to come back into the country until he was sure it was safe.

And what about the army? What is their place in this? They were also loyal to Mugabe and we have seen nothing but bizarre claims that there was no coup. We have seen pictures of generals shaking hands with Mugabe.

Are they acting as the new defenders of the poor and downtrodden or they just throwing their lot in with dictator number two?

I think the future of this once beautiful, prosperous country is very much in the balance now and world governments, and African governments especially, must keep a watchful eye.

It is not the politics that are important, though. For the ordinary Zimbabweans, the hope for the future will be simple – enough food to fill themselves and their families, the prospect of paid employment and a life without fear.

They don’t need a Crocodile as a leader. They need a Mandela. He wouldn’t be able to solve their problems overnight but at least the people would feel he was fighting with them and not against them.