ZIMBABWEANS woke up on Wednesday morning to uncertainty after the military had taken over control of government, the state broadcaster ZBC and blocked access to government offices.
Candid Comment Faith Zaba
In a statement read out by Major-General Sibusiso Moyo, which came a few hours after the army had seized operations at Pockets Hill, the ZBC headquarters, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) indicated the move was not a coup. They told the nation that President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the country for 37 years, was safe.
The military said their action was targeted at “criminals” surrounding Mugabe. This came soon after ZDF commander General Constantino Chiwenga had, in a statement, warned they could step in if Mugabe failed to fulfil their demands, which included stopping “reckless utterances” by politicians who were denigrating the army and the purging of party members with liberation war background.
They also wanted “known counter-revolutionary elements” fomenting instability in the party exposed and fished out. The army also wanted Zanu PF members to go for the extraordinary congress with equal opportunity to exercise their democratic rights.
While the military action has been bloodless, there is need for peace, civility and engagement among ordinary Zimbabweans, apart from political elites. The ordinary people must be central through various structures of feedback into the process.
Zimbabwe is where it is today because of Mugabe, who has been showing signs of increasing frailty. He is the source of the problems after failing to manage succession politics. Mugabe is not even listening to the liberation struggle fighters. The same people who put him at the helm of Zanu PF in 1977 have been complaining that he has outlived his usefulness. Tensions have been high between Mugabe and the liberation war veterans’ movement led by Chris Mutsvangwa.
Because of Mugabe’s failure to deal with the thorny succession issue, Zanu PF has spent most of its current mandate engrossed in internal battles, which have culminated in suspensions and expulsions of perceived First Family antagonists. Recently, Mugabe fired his deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was accused of leading a faction plotting to oust him.
We have repeatedly warned Mugabe and told him time and time again to deal with the succession issue. The recklessness with which the factions in Zanu PF have dealt with the issue has led to the prevailing volatile situation. The hostile rhetoric, expulsions, votes-of-no-confidence and failure to rein in his wife Grace, all leading to the sacking of Mnangagwa from the vice-presidency, are to blame for this needless political crisis. While the army should not dabble in politics, the manner in which the ZDF was demonised, not only by the First Lady, but also by junior members of the party, heightened the tensions.
Zanu PF leaders’ recklessness has ultimately resulted in political degeneration.
The country now finds itself in an unpalatable situation, hence the need to be cool-headed when handling this delicate situation, for the sake of progress and peace. The country’s future depends on such a modus vivendi.