When Zimbabwean Defense Forces (ZDF) in the crack of dawn of November 14th 2017, tried to man up by seizing power from Zimbabwe’s former long time strongman Robert Mugabe, they said their coup wasn't a coup. The world was left confused and shocked thanks to the convolution the statement of the ZDF caused. ZDF’s spokesperson Sibusiso Moyo was quoted as saying “the president... and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed; we are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes... As soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.” How do you purge presidential appointees and refer to them as criminal stop short of carrying out the coup? In the end, the ZDF forced Mugabe out of power by forcing him to resign.
South African president Jacob Zuma was quoted as saying that Mugabe “was fine but confined.” How do you confine a president and say that that doesn’t amount to a coup? This being the case, what should we call Zimbabwe’s army actions? Another point that can open our eyes is the reason that the army offered for taking the actions they took. General Constantino Chiwenga the Chief of Defense Forces (CDF) was quoted as saying that “the current purging, which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background, must stop forthwith.” Can such an assertion give us a clue of what is to come as far as power play in Zimbabwe is concerned? How does the army that–in a multiparty democracy is supposed to be neutral–comment on party politics? Does this means that Zimbabwe army has always been political without openly saying so? Isn’t this against the constitution and multiparty democracy? Is the army intending to snatch ZANU-PF from the members? Is the army being used by one cabal of power brokers in ZANU-PF’s ranks and files? Is Zimbabwe witnessing what UK’s foreign Secretary Boris Johnson referred to as power going from elected tyrant to unelected one?
As the meaning to what happened in Zimbabwe, despite what, it is purely a coup. The Free online dictionary defines coup d’états as “a sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government” which is exactly what took place in Zimbabwe. Essentially, coup is the act of taking power from the government whether that government is democratically or undemocratically in power. This is why those saying power is going from one elected tyrant to another seem to be right.
Although the ZDF doesn’t want to call a spade a spade, its actions call it the same. This is important to interrogate. We have evidenced many military strong men taking power and promise democracy to end up ushering dictatorship. Former Gambian tyrant Yahya Jammeh is an ideal example. After toppling an elderly president, he promised goodies that ended up becoming a hell on earth. He clung to power for over twenty years that saw many Gambians exiled, jailed or killed by his regime.
Another example can be drawn from Tunisia where an elderly president Habib Bourguiba was overthrown in a bloodless coup like in the Gambia and Zimbabwe. When Zine El Abidine Ben Ali pulled him down, he clung to power for over twenty years.
Despite the convolution on what has actually transpired in Zimbabwe, there are many lessons. The first lesson is that power belongs to the people. This must be the lesson the ZDF and whoever is using it to underscore.
Secondly, presidents must not overstay in power for whatever reasons or ruses.
Thirdly, presidents should not allow their wives to turn their office into family business regulated under bedroom politics as it was in Zimbabwe where Mugabe’s greedy wife, Grace, authored her husband’s fall from grace. Thanks to Mrs. Mugabe’s greed and illiteracy, she was used by party intra-factional maneuvers so as to ruin her husband’s power.
Fourthly, armies should not involve themselves in party politics even if it may be a good ruse to use to ascend to power.
In a nutshell, what transpired in Zimbabwe is nothing but a coup. What should make Zimbabweans cagey must be: Why doesn’t the army want to admit that its actions are tantamount to a coup. A coup is a coup. There is no legit coup. Therefore, if the army is not plotting to illegally rule Zimbabwe or being used to do so, it must allow a transitional government to be formed in order to return Zimbabwe to constitutionalism in which Zimbabweans will be able to elect the leader they want. Again, why didn’t the ZDF want to call its coup a coup?
Source: Citizen, Wed., today.