15 Nov 2017

Welcome to the new Zimbabwe!

Welcome to the new Zimbabwe!

It’s a lot like the old one from before – so said a friend in Harare as news spread that what is called a “bloodless correction” has restored Zimbabwe’s Chimurenga – struggle or war vet generation to supremacy.

The old guard have outflanked the upcoming new.

When Grace Mugabe and her generation 40 or ‘G40’ group convinced 93 year old President Robert Mugabe to dismiss Emmerson Mnangagwa, the long serving and very powerful Vice President and hero of the “Chimurenga” struggle of the 60’s and 70’s against white rule it was only a matter of time before a “correction” would take place.

Rumours abound as to whether Mnagagwa has returned, as to where the President and First Lady are and whether they are together, but one thing is certain the men in fatigues are in charge; stalwarts of the Grace faction including the finance minister Chombo have been detained and the fact that the G40 ‘spin-meister’ Professor Jonathan Moyo has not tweeted for close to 16 hours surely indicates the same.

The coup unfolded slowly yesterday; military vehicles were seen across and around Harare moving from one barracks to another, but much of government went ahead as scheduled.

I am told by one source that Mugabe, perhaps oblivious to military manoeuvres, had attended a scheduled cabinet or politburo meeting at his Central Harare office which ended at 6pm, and then left in his Presidential convo. It was stopped by the military en route to his home in the smart suburb of Borrowdale. His civilian bodyguards were detained, and he was officially taken into custody before being driven the rest of the way home. It was said he is there with his wife Grace, however there are other rumours that she is out of the country.

Other reports that a new government might be formed including Morgan Tsvangirai are dismissed by those who point out there is no effective opposition in Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai is thought to be very ill and clinging to the MDC leadership. The most likely course of action seems to be to be to get to the extra ordinary Zanu PF congress in December and get Mugabe to pass on the leadership.

A frail ageing 93 year old without close advisers manipulating him and protecting might do that, but for years Mugabe has played one competing faction that wanted to succeed him off against the other.

If they have all joined forces and chosen one amongst them to do this then maybe it will happen, but Mugabe’s hold on power is slipping because of his age and not his stunning powers of cunning and manipulation.

Mnangagwa was the architect allegedly on Mugabe’s orders of the Gukurahundi massacres of the 1980’s when up to 20,000 Ndebeles were killed by government forces was what was said to keep him in top spot in the succession.

The possibility of being held to account for this bloodbath was said to haunt Mugabe and Mnangagwa, and keep them close. The fact that the army and Mnangagwa are acting in concert means justice will be as far away as ever, and it may convince Mugabe to finally cede power to the “next generation” that Mnangagwa, even at 75 represents.

Most Zimbabweans just want the plunder and corruption of the past 15 years to be admitted by an incoming leadership and stopped. Whether the international community is willing to grasp the chance to move on with the same old gang but led by someone many call an alleged war criminal is the next question.

3 reader comments

  1. Mark Gavhure says:

    What is the need for this negativity Ben de Pear? It’s almost as though you don’t want Zimbabwe to succeed?

  2. H Statton says:

    Coups d’état, without the ‘shots’. Robert Mugabe’s government foiled a potential military coups in 2007 which was instigated mainly by Captain Albert Matapo, Major General Engelbert Rugeje, Air Vice Marshal Elson Moyo, and spokesman for the Zimbabwe National Army Ben Ncubewho who upon discovery were allegedly tortured and although jailed for seven years, Mugabe did not press charges for treason as evidence was insufficient.

    Matapo stood accused of plotting the coup employing hundreds of troops to depose Mugabe, and inviting Emmerson Mnangagwa to lead the new government once the president was forcibly removed from office. But it’s reported that Matapa later said he regarded Mnangagwa as simply another Mugabe. Mnangagwa denied any involvement. It’s since been implied some western governments though officially condemning the coup privately, welcomed it if democracy was the phoenix from the flames.

    The African Development Bank reports there were around 99 coup attempts in Sub-Saharan Africa between 1970 and 1990; the total number of coups (successful and unsuccessful) has since steadily declined and now stands at less than half.

    Given the recent mass killings and military coups since the 1960’s in e.g. neighbouring central African countries of Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, South Sudan, Tanzania it is easy to see the risk of ‘spill-over’ from fleeing civilians, refugees. The tribal tensions together with unstable governments, militia or some combination of all these factors following colonial rule increased tensions between ethnic groups. You only need look at the genocide of the warring Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups of Rwanda and Burundi.

    From around the mid-1990s the number of coup attempts has dropped dramatically, largely because of the establishment of independence and fairer elections, though in some regions there is still a considerable way to go before a truly free society is realised. The more stable the country, the less likely it is to undergo a military coup, although the type of governing rule is an important factor e.g. autocracy, democracy.

    Along with the rise of democracy is the decline of the old guard, a new generation of African is flowering; the ‘freedom fighters’ are witnessing an end of days, you might say. The blood-soaked military coup is no longer fashionable. It’s seems rather odd to refer to the world’s oldest geological continent as the world’s youngest continent in so many other ways but then again it didn’t get a chance to blossom for itself until European colonial rule ended.

    It is only in recent decades things have changed. Not only has the number of coups more than halved but there appears to be an emerging pattern – a small series of successful coups is followed by a larger series of unsuccessful ones; they alternate (I have not checked to see whether or not the failed coups were in countries neighbouring those that underwent successful coups; I have also not checked to see the scale of bloodshed, if any; a good many coups have been bloodless).

    Now there is a generation of younger Africans wanting their leaders to follow through on their promises, have their constitutional rights upheld, have freedom from oppression, and freedom of expression.

    Does this all mean a fall for Grace? Is Mnangagwa a slightly younger Mugabe-esque figure? There is a vacuum. And although there is no going back for the military, after four decades in power “his excellency, the president” won’t want to throw the towel in just yet, I suspect, even at the age of 93.

    1. H Statton says:

      “It’s since been implied some western governments though officially condemning the coup privately, welcomed it if democracy was the phoenix from the flames” is supposed to read:

      It’s since been implied some western governments though officially condemning the coup publicly, welcomed it if democracy was the phoenix from the flames.

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