– Zimbabwean Army announced on Wednesday that it had placed Robert Mugabe under “house arrest”.
– Their plan was to orchestrate an ouster of the 94-year old President who had ruled the southern African country for 37 years!
– The wahala began some time within the month when Robert Mugabe in his characteristic buffoonery of power drunkeness, fired his Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, for disloyalty.
– This led to some dissidents revolting as they believed the VP’s sack was intended by Mugabe to pave way for his wife, infamously known as “Gucci Grace” or DisGrace” for her undaunted lavishness, to become VP and then succeed him.
– The Army stepped in and stage a coup d’etat of sorts.
– Mugabe is still within the Army’s grip, but latest reporta say one Priest is trying to negotiate a graceful exit from power for bros Robert.
– But, as of now, bros Robert himself is resisting peace talks for his jeje exit, while insisting that only a vote of no confidence from his ZANU-PF party would have him leave office.
Read up in full below:
Zimbabwe’s military said on Wednesday that it was holding President Robert Mugabe and his family safe while targeting “criminals” in the entourage of Mugabe who has ruled the South African nation for 37 years.
A general appeared on state television to announce the takeover as armoured vehicles blocked roads to the main government offices, parliament and the courts in central Harare. The atmosphere in the capital remained calm.
Mugabe was said to have spoken by telephone to the president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, and told him he was confined to his home but fine.
Reports said it was unclear whether the coup would bring a formal end to the 93-year-old Mugabe’s rule; the main goal of the generals appeared to be preventing Mugabe’s wife Grace, 41 years his junior, from succeeding him.
“We are only targeting criminals around him (Mugabe) who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice,” Reuters quoted Major General SB Moyo, Chief of Staff Logistics, as saying on television.
“As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy,” he added.
Western countries mostly called for calm. “We cannot tell how developments in Zimbabwe will play out in the days ahead and we do not know whether this marks the downfall of Mugabe or not,” British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told parliament.
“We will do all we can, with our international partners, to ensure this provides a genuine opportunity for all Zimbabweans to decide their future.”
Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo, a leading member of the ruling party’s ‘G40’ faction, led by Grace Mugabe, had been detained by the military, a government source was quoted as saying.
Zimbabwe’s political crisis reached a boiling point last week with the dismissal of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, clearing the way for Mugabe’s wife, also a vice president, to succeed him.
Mugabe told supporters he had dismissed Mnangagwa for disloyalty and disrespect, as well as using witchcraft to take power.
The move exacerbated divisions in the ZANU-PF party, where the youth faction is firmly on Grace Mugabe’s side, while many older veterans of the struggle against white rule look to Mnangagwa. As a former defence minister, Mnangagwa has strong support with the military.
At one point last month, Grace Mugabe even warned that supporters of Mnangagwa were planning their own coup. He later fled to South Africa.
Political commentator Maxwell Saungweme was quoted as saying by phone that the military would probably try to pressure Mugabe to step down in favour of Mnangagwa as acting president.
“But this plan may not pan out as Mugabe might resist this. So the whole thing may be messy,” he warned.
But President Robert Mugabe is insisting he remains Zimbabwe’s only legitimate ruler, an intelligence source said on Thursday.
The source said Mugabe is resisting mediation by a Catholic priest to allow the 93-year-old former guerrilla a graceful exit after a military coup.
The priest, Fidelis Mukonori, is acting as a middle-man between Mugabe and the generals, who seized power on Wednesday in a targeted operation against “criminals” in his entourage, a senior political source told Reuters.
The source could not provide details of the talks, which appear to be aimed at a smooth and bloodless transition after the departure of Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.
Mugabe, still seen by many Africans as a liberation hero, is reviled in the West as a despot whose disastrous handling of the economy and willingness to resort to violence to maintain power destroyed one of Africa’s most promising states.
Zimbabwean intelligence reports seen by Reuters suggest that former security chief Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was ousted as vice-president this month, has been mapping out a post-Mugabe vision with the military and opposition for more than a year.
Fuelling speculation that that plan might be rolling into action, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who has been receiving cancer treatment in Britain and South Africa, returned to Harare late on Wednesday, his spokesman said.
Inspte of the lingering admiration for Mugabe, there is little public affection for 52-year-old Grace, a former government typist who started having an affair with Mugabe in the early 1990s as his first wife, Sally, was dying of cancer.
Dubbed “DisGrace” or “Gucci Grace” on account of her reputed love of shopping, she enjoyed a meteoric rise through the ranks of Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF in the last two years, culminating in Mnangagwa’s removal a week ago, a move seen as clearing the way for her to succeed her husband.
In contrast to the high political drama unfolding behind closed doors, the streets of the capital remained calm, with people going about their daily business, albeit under the watch of soldiers on armored vehicles at strategic locations.
Whatever the final outcome, the events could signal a once-in-a-generation change for the former British colony, a regional breadbasket reduced to destitution by economic policies Mugabe’s critics have long blamed on him.
Business as usual in Harare suburbs
By Wednesday afternoon it was business as usual in Harare’s suburbs while there was less traffic than normal in the city centre. Soldiers continued to man armoured cars but had relaxed searches on vehicles on some checkpoints. Residents spoke in awe of events that had previously seemed unthinkable.
Whatever the final outcome, the events could signal a once-in-a-generation change for the southern African nation, once a regional bread-basket, reduced to poverty by an economic crisis Mugabe’s opponents have long blamed on him.
Even many of Mugabe’s most loyal supporters over the decades had come to oppose the rise of his wife, who courted the powerful youth wing of the ruling party but alienated the military, led by Mugabe’s former guerrilla comrades from the 1970s independence struggle.
“This is a correction of a state that was careening off the cliff,” Chris Mutsvangwa, the leader of the liberation war veterans, told Reuters. “It’s the end of a very painful and sad chapter in the history of a young nation, in which a dictator, as he became old, surrendered his court to a gang of thieves around his wife.”
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change called for a peaceful return to constitutional democracy, adding it hoped the military intervention would lead to the “establishment of a stable, democratic and progressive nation state”.
President Muhammadu Buhari said, “Every attempt must be made to resolve all contentious issues by constitutional means in Zimbabwe to save the country from avoidable political instability.”
Economic implosion overseen by Mugabe’s misgovernance and/or misgivings
While most African states gained independence by the end of the 1960s, Zimbabwe remained one of the last European colonies on the continent, ruled by white settlers as Rhodesia until 1980. Mugabe took power after a long guerrilla struggle, and two decades later ordered the forcible seizure of white-owned farms.
The fall in output that followed was one of the worst economic depressions of modern times. By 2007-2008 inflation topped out at 500 billion per cent. Mugabe blamed Britain and the United States for sabotaging the country to bring it to heel. His followers used violence to suppress a growing domestic opposition he branded lackeys of former colonial powers.
The economy briefly stabilised from 2010-2014 when Mugabe was forced to accept a power-sharing government with the opposition, but since then the recovery has unravelled. In the last year, a chronic shortage of dollars has led to long queues outside banks. Imported goods are running out and economists say that by some measures inflation is now at 50 per cent a month.
The economic implosion has destablised the region, sending millions of poor labourers streaming out of the country, mostly to neighbouring South Africa.
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