A few days after the sacking of Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe’s top military general called for an immediate end to purges against former liberation war fighters in President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party after Emmerson Mnangagwa was stripped of his vice president’s post.
The Army Commander – Constantino Chiwenga
In a move that highlighted the tensions rising in the southern African nation, General Constantino Chiwenga, commander of Zimbabwe Defence Forces said there was instability in ZANU-PF, which was causing anxiety in Zimbabwe.
“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 at the army headquarters.
ZANU-PF was deeply divided over who will eventually succeed 93-year-old Mugabe, with one faction, named G40 rallying behind Mugabe’s wife Grace and another that rooted for Mnangagwa. The mostly youthful G40 group is made up of members who did not fight in the independence war who believe that a younger generation should lead ZANU-PF during a post-Mugabe era.
The army general said ZANU-PF had since 2015 been rocked by infighting, which had afflicted the economy, causing serious cash shortages and soaring prices of basic commodities.
Main opposition leader (MDC-T) – Morgan Tsvangirai
Upon hearing the news of what is dubbed as the ‘soft coup’, Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, called on President Mugabe to stand down and end the impasse. Mr Tsvangirai, who has largely been out of the public eye while he receives treatment for colon cancer, told a press conference a “transition of power” leading to fresh elections was necessary.
“In the interest of the people of Zimbabwe, Mr Robert Mugabe must resign and step down immediately in line with the national expectation and sentiment, taking full regard of his legacy and contribution to Zimbabwe pre and post-independence,” he said.
Activist – Acie Lumumba
Acie Lumumba: ‘Mugabe won’t be president by end of tomorrow’
Acie Lumumba, co-ordinator of Mugabe “send-off” march and a former Zanu PF politician said the military intervention in Zimbabwe is the silver bullet which the country has been waiting for.
“The whole world wants to know: Will Zimbabwe step up or will we step out,” he said.
He said despite the Zimbabwe Defence Force (ZDF) taking control of the country‚ he was urging citizens to unite to show the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that they want new rule in the country. The masses did turn up and the world saw it, Zimbabwe wanted change.
Activist pastor Evan Mawarire described the rally as “a momentous occasion” and an opportunity for a “fresh start” to advance democratic change. Mawarire has faced charges of undermining the president and trying to overthrow an elected government for calling on Zimbabweans to protest against spiralling economic and political problems.
Marches were also done in parts of South Africa, the UK and the US – countries where millions of Zimbabweans migrated to in search of safety and better living, as various economic and political crises at home have left more than 70% living below the national poverty line.
The AU and SADC
Mugabe‚ a revered negotiator‚ demanded the army should first acknowledge they were acting outside legal provisions‚ sources said. At this juncture the fight was between the rule of law and military intervention and the African Union (AU) declared it would not support a coup government in Zimbabwe.
“We demand respect for the constitution‚ a return to the constitutional order and we will never accept the military coup d’etat‚” AU head Alpha Conde told journalists.
While the region’s leaders have been silent on Mugabe’s fate, Botswana’s President Ian Khama has openly called for the elderly veteran to step down. Botswana’s President Ian Khama says Mugabe now needs to step down from power.
Khama believes the coup presents an opportunity to put Zimbabwe on a path to peace and prosperity.
President Jacob Zuma denounced any unconstitutional takeover of government in Zimbabwe. Zuma who is the chair of the regional body SADC said the body stands ready to assist in the political impasse.
“Presidency has called for calm and restraint and has expressed hope that developments in Zimbabwe would not lead to unconstitutional changes of government as that would be contrary to both SADC and African Union positions,” the presidency said.
President Jacob Zuma, as chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), decided to deploy a special envoy to Zimbabwe in light of the developments regarding President Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe ‘lost control’
After the march Mugabe didn’t step down, he didn’t resign. He promised to preside over Zanu PF’s congress in December 2017. The war vets lobbed for Mugabe’s pouster from the party. The day after the march, all 10 of Zanu-PF’s provincial structures passed a motion of no-confidence against Mugabe and called on him to step down as the ruling party’s first secretary.
Zanu PF’s 10 Provincial Coordinating Committees (PCC) said the leader had “lost control of the party and government business due to incapacitation stemming from his advanced age”.
The provincial branches’ move was carried by Zimbabwe’s state broadcaster ZBC, which was seized by the army as part of its takeover on Wednesday.
The Zimbabwean president appeared in public on Friday 17 December – the first time since the army’s takeover on Wednesday 15 December – attending a university graduation ceremony in Harare. Zimbabwe’s military said it was engaging in talks with Mugabe, promising an outcome soon.
It was widely believed to be an historic moment when Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe would step down. But instead, during an address to the nation, Mugabe simply provided an update on meetings that were place since the army took control of Zimbabwe.
He made his address to the nation from State House in Harare. Senior army officials from the Zimbabwean Defence Force (ZDF) sat to his right, with General Constatino Chiwenga, the man who threatened a coup a day before the army took control of Zimbabwe, sitting closest to him.
“The current criticism raised against it [Zanu-PF] by the command element and some of it [Zanu-PF’s] members have arisen from a well-founded perception that the party was straying or even failing its own rules and procedures,” Mugabe said.
Mugabe wished ‘good night’ to Zimbabweans who slept with disappointment since they wanted to hear his god byes.
War vets leader – Chris Mutsvangwa
Mutsvangwa expressed delight‚ in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Times‚ at the military intervention that appeared to usher in an end to Mugabe’s 37-year rule‚ cut off Grace Mugabe’s presidential ambitions and deal a decisive blow to a party faction‚ known as G40‚ aligned to the First Family.
“We are obviously delighted with the steps which our army took in correction of a situation where there was executive capture‚ where state house was being captured by a coterie of young upstarts‚” Mutsvangwa said.
“They were using [Mugabe’s] wife‚ who is clinically mad‚ and anyone can see that. She has done outrageous things in South Africa of recent [sic]… this woman now thinks she can aspire to be president of the country because of her husband. A collection of utterly useless and incompetent criminal-minded young men had now accosted and asserted themselves with this woman‚ so that they could take power.”
Mugabe’s reign was built on support from three pillars – Zanu-PF party, the military and the war veterans – and their hardening stance against him in recent years was a bellwether of his downfall on Tuesday.
After the army took control, the war veterans rallied tens of thousands of ordinary Zimbabweans to join street protests against Mugabe in a sudden outpouring of public will.
“Our relationship with Mugabe had irretrievably broken down,” Victor Matemadanda, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association, said.
Mugabe’s resignation came hours after parliament began an impeachment process against him on Tuesday 21 November. That was set to bring his domination of a country he has ruled since independence nearly four decades ago to an embarrassing end. The speaker stopped impeachment proceedings to say they had received a letter from Mugabe with the resignation “with immediate effect.”
It was an extraordinary end for the world’s oldest head of state after 37 years in power. Zimbabweans raise their fists at the news of Robert Mugabe’s resignation. Streets were jam-packed and people chanted, danced and ululated with pleasure.
Father Fidelis Mukonori, a Jesuit priest who is a close Mugabe friend, laughed off a report that Mugabe cried and lamented the betrayal by close lieutenants when he agreed to resign.
“When he finished his signature his face just glowed, no weeping unless there were angels weeping somewhere,” Mukonori clarified.
“For me it was a sign that he was accepting that ‘ah this is done’, he is relieved, and not that he is aggrieved but relieved.”
He said Mugabe realized it was the end of the road two days before he resigned, when he saw 60,000 Zimbabweans protesting and demanding he quit at the Harare grounds where he was inaugurated as prime minister in 1980.
Church leaders in Zimbabwe called for prayer—and a transitional government—after 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe was placed under house arrest by the military.
Writing on Twitter, under pictures of him in handcuffs and addressing a mass prayer rally, Pastor Mawarire said: “You could never have convinced me that one day I’d find myself in any of these two completely different positions. The last two years have been worth it, arrested 5 times, spent 22 days in prison, 19 court appearances, passport taken, not seen family in 11 months, I’m still on bail, I persevered.”
The Zimbabwean church leaders have received strong support from church leaders around the world.
The Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday night, as news of Mr Mugabe’s resignation spread to neighbouring South Africa: “Continue to uphold Zimbabweans in prayer at this time of transition. Pray for all involved, the military, President Mugabe and Family and his cabinet and especially for ongoing peace and stability.”
Author: Gesture Chidhanguro