Zimbabwean coup takes power from the Mugabe family
Robert Mugabe and his family are “safe and secure” after a Zimbabwe coup early Wednesday, according to General Constantine Chiwenga. Those who are familiar with the African country’s politics such as Amherst College postdoctoral fellow Chipo Dendere, say that the term “secure” actually means that the Mugabe family are essentially under a kind of house arrest. The army has assumed power for now, but has stated that it has no intention of staying in power any longer than is needed to restore order.
Restoring order could take quite a few paths, which has produced a bit of uncertainty both in Zimbabwe and abroad. There could either be a military rule (despite the claims of the army), a transitional government, or even a settlement that would allow Mugabe to return to power.
Mugabe’s presidency has seen he and his family go from revolutionary leaders to symbols of entrenched power and corruption. In 1980, Zimbabwe was delivered from the hands of the British and colonial rule by the white minority. It became an independent country through the leadership of Robert Mugabe who vowed that Zimbabwe would never again become a colony. In recent years, Zimbabwe has fallen from its position as one of the most wealthy countries in Africa to a country with one of the worst inflation rates in the world.
However, the recent events in Zimbabwe that led to the coup are not all falling onto Robert Mugabe’s shoulders, as it has been his wife Grace who has inserted herself into the political arena, foreshadowing and some may even say creating the vacancies within and weakening of the ZANU PF (Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front).
In fact, it is the Mugabe family’s expulsion of former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, in addition to the Mugabe backed assumption that General Chiwenga was 15 million dollars deep in an embezzlement scheme, that seemed to trigger the army’s response to take over the ZANU PF.
The expulsion of Mnangagwa also served to draw on tensions present in the ZANU PF between the younger members, who are in favor of Grace Mugabe, and the older members (including the military) who are in favor of Emmerson Mnanagagwa. The fact that the younger faction was looking to Grace Mugabe rather than her husband is telling of the estimation of Robert Mugabe’s power inside the ZANU PF. It also also implies that they know it is not going to be much longer before Mugabe dies and power must be transferred regardless.
It is going to be intriguing to see how this situation develops and who the next steps will benefit.