“By Jonathan Chando-Lawyer, Political Analyst and Commentator on International Law and Politics”
The intra-party discord
Not only have the events in Zimbabwe in the last week or so been monumental, but also surprising to both citizens and foreigners alike. The events have been received with mixed but largely euphoric responses by Zimbabweans across the political divide.
The events that unfolded were triggered by the firing by Robert Mugabe, on the instigation of his wife Grace, of his long term lieutenant and ally, Emerson Mnangagwa (affectionately referred to as ED by his supporters) from the post of Vice President of Zimbabwe, and the pending threat of removing him as Second Secretary of the ruling party, ZANU PF.
Having been removed from the VP post slightly more than a week ago, Mnangagwa immediately disappeared, with various rumours on his whereabouts doing the rounds. Some news outlets reported of him having been spotted at Forbes border post near Mutare where he was said to have been thwarted on his bid to cross into neighbouring Mozambique.
Some reported that he had secretly boarded a private jet from a private airstrip.
However the bottom line is, he left the country undetected.
Rumour then spread, that Mugabe had intended to immediately arrest Mnangagwa and charge him with an array of criminal offences, from treason to corruption.
At the time of ED’s dismissal, whether by chance or by Mugabe’s design, General Constantino Guvheya Chiwenga, Commander Defence Forces (CDF) of Zimbawe, was in China on official military business. Conspiracy pedlars tout that Mugabe had deliberately designed for CDF to be away when he fired ED. But this is subject to speculative assertions. Only the parties to the occurrences know the truth. It is also speculated or rather reported, albeit without confirmation, that on his return, CDF was to be met by police details at the now RG Mugabe International Airport, while ED would have already been in custody. Whether this was the case or not, it did not happen.
CDF had a heavily armed military escort, which included his wife, awaiting to pick him from the airport. Some say the police developed cold feet or were waded off by the intimidating military outfit.
Fast forward to two,days later, unexpectedly, the full complement of the defence forces’ top brass, with the exception of Air Vice Marshall, Perence Shiri, who is reported to be unwell, but represented by his deputy, led by the CDF, made a press release.
The press release, read by the CDF, warned of the impeding intervention by the Defence Forces to arrest what they termed instability in the ruling party, ZANU PF, and anxiety in the country at large. The statement reiterated that the instability had impacted negatively on the socio, political and economic lives of citizens and resultantly causing distress, trepidation and despondency in the country.
The statement by the Generals also pointed to the purging of traditional party leadership within the party, who had revolutionary background by a gang of people who had fought on the wrong side of the revolution, manipulating the 93 year old President. The mandate of the military is that of protecting Zimbabwe, it’s people, it’s national security and interests, its territorial integrity and to uphold its constitution.
The military was mandated, therefore, the CDF stated, to intervene and execute corrective measures to avert a violent outcome in the country, and that the ZDF would not hesitate to do so.
This was unprecedented and a stark challenge to President Robert Mugabe, who ironically was the man behind the purging of fellow party members, alongside his wife and the Gang of Four, Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere, Patrick Zhuawo and Ignatius Chombo, who led a faction coded G40. The G40 cabal had pushed for the sacking of ED to pave way for Mugabe’s wife to become Vice President of both party and country. She was then touted to take over as President on her frail husband’s retirement.
Clearly, this was an intra party feud, which had drastically escalated into a serious conflict, to the detriment of the country’s wellbeing. The involvement of the military presents a clear picture of its partisan nature and is devoid of any impartiality, even though they profess to be upholding the constitution. This will be analysed further in this article.
Following the statement by the Generals, the ZANU PF, through its party spokesperson, who is also Minister of Information, issued a statement castigating the Generals statement and warning them that the military had no business involving themselves in politics, whether governmental or partisan. But this was ironic, given that the military has all along been the main force that has helped President Mugabe and ZANU PF keep hold on power. An analysis of this will follow further in this article.
Within 24 hours, an amphibious assault was meticulously executed by the military, where strategic security units such as the Presidential Guard unit, the Police General Headquarters were secured and disarmed. Other strategic government institutions, including the state broadcaster, were secured overnight. Also secured was the State House, the President’s official residence and his private residence in Borrowdale, where he was then put under house arrest. The military then issued a statement on state television, informing the nation that they had secured the power of the state, in order to hunt for and arrest criminal elements of the G40 cabal, surrounding the President and holding him to ransom, forcing him to try and anoint his wife as successor. The President, they said, was safe and sound and was in charge.
The nation woke up to this state of affairs and was siezed with uncertainty as military hardware, such as armoured personnel carriers (APCs), and other military vehicles were seen patrolling the streets and manning roadblocks across the country. Power had moved from civilian to military control , something which had never been experienced in Zimbabwe. People did not know whether to celebrate or be afraid, but the military assured the nation that business should continue as usual and people had nothing to fear, and President Mugabe was in charge. Some of the G40 elements were captured and detained by military police, including Kudzanayi Chipanga, the Secretary of the ZANU PF youth league, Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere and Ignatius Chombo.
The days that followed witnessed the visibility of the military in cities, towns and all arterial roads across the country, including heavy guard at all police stations. The police were nowhere to be found. Without a clear picture of what was happening, the nation kept guessing how this would all unfold. It was rumoured that negotiations were taking place between the President and the Generals aimed at making the President resign. Come Thursday, the nation witnessed the President for the first time, presiding over the graduation of students at the Zimbabwe Open University. More confusing was it, that a person who was said to be under house arrest would have the freedom to preside over a graduation ceremony. This appeared however, to be a plot to show the world that this was not a coup, as the President was exercising his official duties in public.
In their quest to make the President step down, the Generals wanted him replaced by ED, the fired former Vice President, something the President seemed to vehemently refuse to do. With the indication that efforts to persuade the President to resign were hitting a brick wall, hints of impeachment of the president began to float around, with the organs of ZANU PF kick-started into motion, convening meetings in their respective provinces and passing resolutions to recall the President. This move by ZANU PF has its legal flaws that will be discussed in a separate article. The war veterans mobilised a solidarity march to state house to call for the President, penned for Saturday 18 November. Tens of thousands of citizens of all colour and creed attended the march, which started at Zimbabwe grounds and proceeded to state house.
People were happy and carried banners calling Mugabe to resign. Others gathered in different cities and towns in solidarity. According to war veterans and some organisers, this was a national issue against Mugabe. But looking deeper, it could be ascertained that this had nothing to do with the nation. It was clearly an intra party fight , which had been turned into a national fight.
THE IRONY OF NAIVETY OF THE ZIMBABWEAN POPULACE
It is true that the majority of Zimbabweans want to see the back of Robert Mugabe and his provocative, arrogant, devisive and vitriolic wife. The man has presided over the suffering of Zimbabweans for 37 years under his autocratic, genocidal, hateful and iron fisted rule. The world has watched while the man has reigned the nation with impunity and absolute cruelty.
But let the nation sit back a little and realise that this man is 93 years old. He can neither lift a finger on a five year old boy nor stand against anyone in any physical stand-off. So why has he been so powerful and untouchable if his physical condition is in such frailty?
Why is the nation clamouring to support the removal of Mugabe from ZANU PF when this is supposed to be an internal ZANU PF process?
Does it really benefit the nation when Mugabe is gone?
That Mugabe is old and frail is not a secret, so who is, or who has been the power behind this now frail old man?
ALL THESE QUESTIONS ARE NOT ANSWERED BY REMOVING MUGABE
Mugabe ruled Zimbabwe from 1980 and then, was the darling of the people of Zimbabwe. He had taken over the country from Ian Smith after a bitter guerrilla war which was fought by gallant sons and daughters of Zimbabwe, who included the Generals, and Mugabe whom they now want to depose.
The deterioration of the country’s socio political and economic situation began in the early 1990s , leading to the formation of MDC in 1999. In 2000, and 2002, the opposition would have defeated ZANU PF, but the intervention of the Generals and their military outfit, together with the war veterans, reversed the opposition’s foothold on gaining governance.
People should not forget that these are the same Generals who had been involved in the genocidal operation of Gukurahundi in 1983-1984. They propped up Mugabe against the democratic will of the people. Mugabe would not have won without their full and loyal support.
In 2008′ Tsvangirai and his MDC, then defeated Mugabe and his ZANU PF and results were not announced for a full month plus. Mugabe then opted to resign, according to non other than ED himself. It is ED who went to see Mugabe and told him that he and the military would see to it that he stays in power( but for whose benefit?). And true to their word, they tricked MDC into a electoral re-run and unleashed terror across the country, killing, maiming and causing the disappearance of many opposition members. This was the time of the so called long and short sleeve operations.
This was not Mugabe as he had wanted to surrender.
Back in 2007, the Generals had secured and cordoned off, the Marange-Chiadzwa diamond fields. What has been happening to those gems since then, is only known by the men in camouflage, while the nation bleeds. People should be asking why Obert Mpofu has survived the purging by the Generals, as he was the man in charge of the Mines Ministry and Chiadzwa.
The government of national unity was formed in 2009, and the opposition struggled throughout the unity government term to bring the issue of diamonds to the fore, but the Generals and ZANU PF remained adamant in protecting the secret behind the destination of the proceeds.
In 2011, Zimbabwe witnessed the death allegedly in a house fire, of one of the most decorated liberation icons Zimbabwe has had, General Solomon Mujuru. No one in the military raised a voice in ensuring the proper investigation of the circumstances surrounding his death. Was this deliberate on the part of the military?Zimbabweans must reflect on the issue.
In 2013, the same military, supported by their surrogate war veterans, ensured the stay of Mugabe in power. A year later, fissures began to emerge within ZANU PF, resulting in the un-procedural removal of Joice Mujuru from both ZANU PF and government, spearheaded by the maverick wife of Mugabe, Grace. Mujuru was accused of attempting to overthrow Mugabe. It was evident that the removal of Mujuru was both unconstitutional and unfair as the constitution of ZANU PF was manipulated to ensure she was removed. Non other than ED helped the removal of Mujuru from both ZANU PF and government . .
The Generals and the war veterans remained quiet while their fellow war veteran was hounded out of office like a rabid dog. Why did they not confront Mugabe and his wife then? Was Mujuru a less decorated war heroine, that she did not deserve their protection?
Mnangagwa is on many videos castigating and denigrating Mujuru, but the war veterans and the Generals never, commented nor took Mugabe to task. War veterans instead joined in victimising one of their own without shame.
Fast forward to 2017, ED is removed in the same manner used to remove Mujuru, with the very same accusations labelled against him. A day later, Jonathan Moyo, in his tweet indicates that now that ED is gone, the whereabouts of the US$15 billion diamond proceeds will be revealed. People may not have taken cue of notorious Moyo’s tweet, but those who are calculative and intuitive would have added one plus one to determine what he meant. The looting of diamonds was going to be exposed. Who was to be exposed is not a secret.
Then comes the statement by the Generals warning of an impeding state take over, targeting so called criminals who were holding Mugabe to ransom. This was the G40 cabal led by Mugabe’s wife. Yes they are criminals, but are they the only criminals? Are they the ones who have caused deep suffering in Zimbabwe since soon after independence? The answer is definitely no. The G40 only took hold of government (not exactly) from the time Mujuru was fired. But the country was in comatose well before then.
So why only targeting the G40 cabal? That is the question the nation must be asking itself instead of rushing into a solidarity calls for Mugabe to resign. The nation should be calling for the whole gang, including the Generals to go. The nation is naive to see the Generals and the war veterans as their heroes and saviours. Instead they are cementing the continued rule of the same people who have been holding
Mugabe to ransom and forcing him to continue ruling. Mugabe wanted to go in 2008, and who forced him to stay? Is it not the same Generals and ED?
Now that Mugabe wanted to expose them for their underhand shenanigans, a so called soft coup is triggered, to force Mugabe to go? Wake up Zimbabwe.
If the Generals were concerned with the purging of war veterans from ZANU PF by G40, why did they remain silent when Mujru was purged? Is she not one of their own? Why are they now taking action when ED is purged? The answer is simple. It has nothing to do with bringing the country back on course, but it is about protecting themselves from being exposed by Mugabe, who was now determined to do so, after feeling betrayed by ED.
The opposition has naively joined in this solidarity bandwagon for Mugabe to go, something that has momentarily thrown it into oblivion. The demise of Mugabe and the appointment of ED will render the opposition extinct. ZANU PF will emerge even stronger after the removal of Mugabe and the opposition did not read this correctly.
On Saturday, during the solidarity march, the opposition had the grand opportunity to send home the message about, Electoral reforms, Security sector reforms and many other constitutional irregularities, beamed across the world so that the incoming junta would be held to account if it failed to abide by them. But the opposition was immersed in fake and naive euphoria, which will only benefit the despots who have held Mugabe to ransom from 2008. What a myopic opposition!
This is a system that is evolving within itself and reclaiming its hold on power and Mugabe has become irrelevant and a liability to it. ED once touted that ZANU PF is self chlorinating, and why should the country at large be so involved in partisan politics that only serve to alienate the populace further in the years to come?
Now that the nation has marched in solidarity, ZANU PF has already started singing that this is its cake and they will not eat it with the opposition. What a farce for the people who are coming out in anticipation of a transitional government.
What the Zimbabwean populace should be worried about is why the Generals are insisting on ED to take over instead of allowing either ZANU PF to democratically choose their leader to take over or to let a general election take place.
As it stands, David Coltart is the only opposition leader who has seen the fraud that is being meted on both the opposition and the people of Zimbabwe by ZANU PF and the military.
Well it is for the nation to ponder and regret at some point in future.
WHERE ARE THE HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYERS IN ZIMBABWE?
There is a deafening silence from the human rights lawyers about the alleged capture and detention of the so called members of the G40 cabal, who have been unlawfully incarcerated by the military. Any citizen, if suspected of having committed any crime must be arrested, charged and brought before the courts within 48 hours.
These G40 suspects have been in capture for at least five days, while human rights lawyers have offered nothing but a deafening silence, jumping instead on the bandwagon of calling for Mugabe to go. Where is the ethical and moral fabric of their professionalism? They should be vocal in calling the military to book on the rights of these citizens, who have a right to be heard before the courts immediately within legal timelines. The military also should not be the institution to execute duties constitutionally mandated to the police, but human rights lawyers keep mum on the issue.
THE SUPPOSED RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE ZDF AND THE PEOPLE
Social and political institutions set the context for individual and group behavior and are meant to provide the resources individuals need to survive. How people act and live is shaped in large part by the social structures in which they find themselves.
Patricia Ardon asserts that in some cases, however, a society’s social institutions are characterized by exploitation, political exclusion, and unequal access to resources. These structural forces often create a system of winners and losers in which people become trapped in a particular social situation. Structural violence often results, in the form of power, inequity, poverty, and the denial of basic human rights. Basic human needs go unmet, and groups suffer from inadequate access to resources and exclusion from institutional patterns of decision-making. Unjust structural forces and divisions also contribute to discrimination, lack of education, and inadequate employment opportunities. An example of this sort of structural violence is the effect of deindustrialization of Zimbabwe and the resultant deterioration of the socio-political and economic situation in Zimbabwe.
It is unlikely that processes within the system can be effective in dealing with the injustice and inequality that arise out of system fault. Because these processes are designed to support the existing institution, conflicts that stem from unmet human needs may be contained by the existing system but are unlikely to be resolved. There will be protracted conflict until there are changes made to these basic social structures. And in many cases, if social structural changes are not made, eventually change (oftentimes for the worse) will occur by means of violence.
Since instituting fundamental social structural changes is extremely difficult, these structural and systemic problems are often a main cause of protracted, intractable conflicts.
Indeed, any set of institutions and social relationships that deny identity, social recognition, autonomy, or preconditions for human development, creates an environment of conflict. Structural conflict is likely to result whenever patterned social relationships fail to satisfy basic needs or secure vital human interests. Any society that aspires to meet the needs of its citizens, deal with serious social problems and avoid violent conflict must address these issues.
Civil-military relations is a doctrine that places ultimate responsibility for a country’s strategic decision-making in the hands of the civilian political leadership, rather than professional military officers. The reverse situation, where professional military officers control national politics, is called a military dictatorship. A lack of control over the military may result in a state within a state. One author, paraphrasing Samuel P Huntington’s writings in ” The Soldier and the State”, has summarized the civilian control ideal as “the proper subordination of a competent, professional military to the ends of policy as determined by civilian authority.
Civilian control is often seen as a prerequisite feature of a stable liberal democracy. Mao Zedong stated that “Our principle is that the Party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the Party,”
In the days just passed, Zimbabwe has witnessed the seizure of power by the military from civilian control, in what the military called a necessary measure to contain a deteriorating civil strife emanating from institutional dysfunction.
Although on the surface of things, it was received with joy and gratitude by the civic population, this kind of precedent is institutionally deplorable in a democracy. As Mao Zedong asserts, the military must never lead any institutional protest as this creates, a sense of superiority of the military over its civilian authority. It creates a perennial debacle where the military will become immune to civilian control as it feels powerful enough to silence the civilian government whenever it feels it’s own needs are not met.
The civil society should not be overjoyed by the seizure of power by the military.
In a democracy, civil society must start the protest against an underperforming government and then the military backs it up, not the other way round. This way ensures the civilian authority over their military, and keeps the military in civilian containment.
The events of the past week have created holes in so many parts of Zimbabwe’s institutional stability which will have long lasting consequences in both governance and security. Any corrective measures to institutional malfunctions should not be allowed to be spearheaded by the military. Civil society must lead the way and if the military is loyal to its people, it then comes in as backup to ensure protection and order in the civil institutional realignment.
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