Harare, Zimbabwe — Reports out of the capital city of Harare today are indicating that the Zimbabwean military has seized control of the city and taken the current Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe and the “first family” into custody, holding them safely in the presidential palace grounds.
Many African experts along with most casual observers of the Mugabe regime and his Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) really didn’t believe that a coup attempt was in the cards for Zimbabwe, even after tanks and armored personnel carriers (APCs) began heading into the capital city of Harare. “We really don’t know what these tanks and APCs are doing. This could be just a scheduled maneuver or something,” was the line of thought as more pictures and videos emerged across social media.
Even SOFREP gave a 60/40 split to the negative of a coup attempt actually happening. Yet the hashtag “#ZimbabweCoup” started to trend and garner international exposure. Still, no one truly believed that the Mugabe loyalists of ZANU-PF party or even the military had the stones to pull an actual coup d’état off–that is, until a Zimbabwean general appeared on live television after taking over the Zimbabwean Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) news station and made this statement:
Fellow Zimbabweans, following the address we made on 13 November 2017 which we believe our main broadcaster, ZBC and The Herald were directed not to publicise, the situation in our country has moved to another level.
Firstly, we wish to assure the nation that His Excellency, The President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde R.G Mugabe and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed. We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice.
As soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”
— Dewa Mavhinga (@dewamavhinga) November 15, 2017
And just like that, the world was stunned as Robert Mugabe–the world’s oldest and longest running dictatorial regime and Cold War relic–saw his tenure came to an end.
The enigmatic National Secretary of Information and Publicity, Professor S.K. “Jonathan” Moyo of the ZANU-PF “G40” faction of the party learned that the Zimabawean military is declaring him one of the “criminals” that are surrounding Mugabe, and so he accused the Zimbabwean Army (and specifically the commander of the Zimbabwean defense forces, General Constantine Chiwenga) of treason and “constitutional overreach.”
This didn’t phase General Chiwenga as he sent in troops to surround the Mugabe palace. He then sent troops to another “G40 criminal” villa of the Zimbabwean Finance Minister, Ignatius Chombo.
There, at the finance minister’s villa, a gun battle erupted between Chombo’s personal bodyguards and Zimbabwean defense forces–all of Chombo’s guards were killed in the ensuing fight and he was one of the first to be taken into military custody. The next to fall in this Zimbabwean house of cards was the Police Commissioner-General, Augustine Chihuri, who had attempted to arrest General Chiwenga at the behest of the First Lady and her ZANU-PF “G40” support base on Monday.
Coup underway.Reliable sources say:Some Cde picked up.Gunfight at Minister Chombo's house, his guards killed. Police Com. Chihuri in custody
— Violet Gonda (@violetgonda) November 15, 2017
Shortly after these two key leaders within the ZANU-PF “G40” base were detained, it was reported that both Professor S.K. “Jonathan” Moyo and the ZANU-PF National Political Commissar, Honorable Saviour Kasukuwere, were “picked up from President Mugabe’s Blue Roof residence.”
— Violet Gonda (@violetgonda) November 15, 2017
The question still remains: how did Zimbabwe end up actually going through a coup d’état? It all started with Mugabe’s wife, First Lady Grace Mugabe.
It has been long rumored in both national and international circles that Robert Mugabe has not truly been in charge of the government of Zimbabwe since the mid-2000s. Mugabe’s last real executive decision was to forcibly remove white Zimbabwean farmers from their farmlands (that they have had for generations) and return them to their rightful owners, black Zimbabweans.
After violence and some deaths began to occur at the hands of Mugabe’s loyalist troops, the white farmers fled with their land parcel deeds to South Africa, Britain and Australia. In the coming years, the new owners of the farmland squandered the fertile grounds, leaving Zimbabwe without a functioning agriculture–which was the majority of the nation’s gross national product. Zimbabwe went into a deep dive of debt and inflation.
This was the worst plan implemented by Mugabe in decades and he went off, hat in hand, to beg for a monetary bail-out from the World Bank. That is when Mugabe’s Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa began to distance himself from the dictator–only to draw the disdain of First Lady, Grace Mugabe.
It has been well-known that Mnangagwa was to be the successor to the Mugabe regime once the dictator died or stepped down. It is also a widely known and accepted rule that only veterans of the “Liberation War” were to be chosen to rule in Mugabe’s stead. Mnangagwa is just that, and he enjoys a very solid relationship with the generals and soldiers of the Zimbabwean defense forces.
However, First Lady Mugabe had become very comfortable with her political power and almost singular influence she had over Mugabe himself–she tasted the sweet nectar of totalitarian rule and wanted more.
First Lady Mugabe set out to reverse the long-standing edict that only the old guard that served in the Liberation War could take Mugabe’s place, and she began a smear campaign against the military veteran class with her ZANU-PF Women’s and Youth Leagues.
The First Lady successfully drove a wedge between Mugabe and his cabinet, all the while whispering rumors into his ear of treasonous plots and even witch doctors placing curses and death wishes upon the dictator by upwards of at least 100 of the his veteran generals, and recently by his very own vice president in early November.
Tensions finally boiled over on November 4 of this year when the First Lady, while attending a pro-Mugabe rally, was heckled by four young men who, according to her, were clearly Mnangagwa supporters. And in the truest “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” fashion, she accused Mnangagwa of consorting with key military leadership as well as with various sorcerers to overthrow Mugabe and dismantle the ZANU-PF pro-Mugabe political party.
The First Lady demanded Mugabe relieve Mnangagwa of his vice presidential duties and name her as his successor to the Mugabe regime, and Robert did just that. Mnangagwa, fearing for his life, fled Zimbabwe for what was reported to had been Mozambique and then made this statement:
I have been very close to the President [Mugabe]. We have avoided life threatening situations together. I even doubled up as his personal bodyguard. In return, the President has passed on to me life skills which have put me in good stead throughout my long period in government. Our relationship has over the years blossomed beyond that of master and servant, but to father and son.”
Mnangagwa then began to address the accusations of his treasonous plotting by saying,
My mouth has never uttered a single foul word against the President, nor have I ever contemplated bringing him harm in any way. I therefore find it preposterous that any sane person can lyrically direct such accusations towards me. Of late, I have been vilified beyond measure.”
Then Mnangagwa leveled his displeasure directly onto First Lady Mugabe and her ZANU-PF Women’s and Youth League.
I remain firm and resolute against those who plunder public funds and are used by foreign countries to destabilize the Party. These same people are brazenly protected in public by the First Lady thereby making a mockery of our public institutions. I stand prepared, once again, to pay the ultimate price in defence of Zimbabwe.”
I am not afraid of anyone or worried about my political future under the current “Party Capture” that is being tolerated and condoned by the first family. I implore all genuine members of ZANU-PF to reject this “Party Capture” by a few individuals as I hereby do unequivocally. This is not the Zanu-PF we established with the late Dr. J. M Nkomo and other luminaries who have passed on. This is now a party controlled by undisciplined, egotistical and self-serving minnows who derive their power, not from the people and party but from only two individuals in the form of the first family who have now privatized and commercialized our beloved institution. It is regrettable that after 37 years of unbroken service in government, I am now being hounded out by minnows who have no liberation credentials or clear understanding of our constitution in Zanu-PF.”
Then Mnangagwa ended his statement by addressing President Mugabe himself saying,
This Party is NOT PERSONAL PROPERTY for you and your wife to do as you please. Now that you have clearly told the world that I am your enemy who has taken in excess of 50 years to formulate a plan to dispose of you, I now urge all the genuine members of the Party to determine for themselves who between the three of us, including your wife and the notorious G40 boys, is the enemy of the Party and who the real culprit is in destroying our beloved Zanu-PF.”
A day later the Zimbabwean defense force, General Chiwenga, gave Mugabe, his First Lady and ZANU-PF’s “G40 boys” 24 hours to rectify the firing of Mnangagwa and his subsequent exile, or the Zimababwean military were going to “step in” to fix the situation themselves.
And to that they most certainly did.
The coup in Zimbabwe appears to have ended one of the longest living current dictatorial rules in history. Still, many have no clue what lies ahead for the country. People around Zimbabwe and the globe had gotten so used to Mugabe’s rule that truly no one has anything as far as a growth prospectus for the newly leaderless nation. Time and diplomatic in-roads will tell how Zimbabwe comes out from under totalitarian rule and how they will adjust to the world without Mugabe.
Featured image courtesy of Associated Press