Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Commentary - Africa’s Deft Handling Of Zimbabwe’s ‘Coup’

The sight of a civilian populace wildly cheering soldiers clinging to a tank, is the standard fare of coups d’état. In Africa, which has had a troubling tradition of the military overthrowing civilian administrations, it’s a jubilation that historically has rarely lasted for long, with the new rulers soon proving to be at least as venal and oppressive as those they have replaced.

The Zimbabwe military’s slow motion, week-long, eviction of the man who has ruled that landlocked southern African state for its entire 37 years of existence as an independent nation, came to an abrupt and almost banal end on Tuesday night. After a week of determined resistance, President Robert Mugabe suddenly folded his hand and resigned with immediate effect, by means of a letter read out in the nation’s Parliament, just as impeachment proceedings were starting.
Commentary - Africa’s Deft Handling Of Zimbabwe’s ‘Coup’
On a continent that often has been wracked by violent coups d’état, this had been a most unusual military intervention. For different reasons, everyone, on all sides, took pains to avoid any suggestion that this was a coup.

When the tanks last week swept into the capital city of Harare and soldiers took control of key installations, the nature of what had happened seemed simple: a forced change of power, accomplished in this case at the cost of the death of a single ministerial bodyguard, and with the 93-year-old Mugabe and his 52-year-old wife, Grace, placed under house arrest. That’s a textbook coup.

The military’s actions followed within days of Mugabe firing Deputy President Emmerson Mnangagwa, seemingly to clear the way for the widely despised Grace –known disparagingly as Gucci Grace for reports of her profligacy – to succeed him when he eventually relinquished control. Mnangagwa, who bears the nickname of Crocodile for his canny ruthlessness, and who was Mugabe’s lifelong friend and ally, fled to neighboring South Africa.

“We wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover,” were among the first words of Major General SB Moyo in the post-takeover statement read on television to a riveted nation. Rather, the military was targeting “criminals” around President Mugabe “who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country.” Commentary - Africa’s Deft Handling Of Zimbabwe’s ‘Coup’

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