Succession battle leads to military action
Zimbabwe’s longtime leader Robert Mugabe, who has compared himself to Adolf Hitler, declared nearly a decade ago, “Only God, who appointed me, will remove me–not the MDC [opposition party], not the British. Only God will remove me!” It turns out that God did not have to remove Mugabe. Zimbabwe’s military has removed the 93 years old ruthless dictator from power and placed him under house arrest. Although denying that they had engaged in a military coup, the army also took over the state broadcaster ZBC headquarters and blocked access to government offices.
Mugabe earned a reputation as a freedom fighter against British colonialism and white minority rule. After serving a ten year jail sentence for “subversive speech,” he led guerrilla forces in a battle for independence from Great Britain of what was then known as Southern Rhodesia. After independence was achieved in 1980, with the country taking the name Zimbabwe instead of Southern Rhodesia, Mugabe served as its prime minister until 1987. Then Mugabe became Zimbabwe’s president. He has ruled Zimbabwe ever since with an iron fist, while plunging his country into an economic wasteland with an unemployment rate presently of over 90 percent. The military has protected Mugabe all these years. Rigged elections, rampant corruption, economic meltdown and severe crackdowns on dissent did not matter to the military. However, Mugabe’s poor health and his moves to place his wife on a fast track to succeed him finally caused the military to turn on him.
Zimbabwe’s Major General SB Moyo tried to downplay the military’s action. “We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country to bring them to justice,” he said.
What may have been the last straw for the military was Mugabe’s decision to fire Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week on the grounds that he was allegedly plotting against Mugabe. Mnangagwa had been considered Mugabe’s most likely successor until Mugabe fired him and began purging his supporters, which Mugabe reportedly did to clear the way for his wife Grace Mugabe to succeed him. The head of the armed forces, Constantino Chiwenga, had warned of the possibility of military intervention to end the purge of supporters of the ousted vice president. “We must remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that, when it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in,” Chiwenga said in a statement read to reporters on Monday.
The old guard from the independence era resented Mugabe’s plan to have his much younger wife succeed him rather than Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa, aged 75, dates back to Zimbabwe’s fight for independence and was until recently considered an ally of Mugabe. “Before November’s takeover, some army generals publicly said that they will not allow someone who did not fight in the independence war to rule the country after Mugabe, seemingly a reference to Grace Mugabe,” Aljazeera reported. They apparently believed that Mugabe’s wife Grace, 52, was manipulating him to get rid of any rivals who might stand in her way of taking over the reins of government.
By: Joseph Klein
(Front Page Mag)