Is it a coup or not; the debate rages on? Well, ‘if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck’. Whether it is sugar-coated or watered down for convenience, a coup has taken place in Zimbabwe. In 2011, Brigadier General Nyikayaramba of the Zimbabwe Defence Force confirmed that the Zimbabwe army was not prepared to salute Morgan Tsvangirai in the event he became the President and by extension the Commander-in-chief. This is precisely because Tsvangirai did not possess liberation struggle credentials. Realising that Grace Mugabe was more likely to be elevated to the vice presidency and perhaps the presidency of ZANU-PF by her husband Uncle Bob (Robert Mugabe) where the army would be required to salute her, the army stepped in to stop Gucci Grace in her tracks. In a sense, the army is trying to be consistent in Grace’s situation in that she does not also possess liberation credentials to deserve to be saluted. The other objective of the coup is to deal with factional fights within ZANU-PF by purging Gucci Grace’s faction while at the same time preserving the status quo. That is, remove the ambitious young digital generation, replace them with the analogue generation with political influence intact and guaranteed. The Zimbabwe army and other security institutions have for a long time been de facto structures of ZANU-PF. And this is because people who led them (security institutions) were in the main members of the party with long Chimurenga historical credentials. To the Zimbabwe army and war veterans, Grace – the Gucci – was born when they were already in the trenches fighting Ian Smith in the Second Chimurenga or the Zimbabwe Liberation War of 1966-1979. On this point, it would go without saying that Gucci Grace is still wet behind her ears to assume a critical position in the party let alone in government. It is common cause that Grace the Gucci is credited with the removal of the former Zimbabwe Vice President Joyce Mujuru from ZANU-PF in 2015. It is also common cause that the recent removal of another former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his subsequent expulsion is also credited to Grace the Gucci due to her close proximity to Uncle Bob. Grace the Gucci it would appear in the army thinking, had gone too far where her wings had to be permanently clipped.
The army is telling us that its actions are geared at removing criminals who are close to Uncle Bob. These criminals, the army tells us as well, are ill-advising Uncle Bob, hence the current state of affairs of Zimbabwe. I find this hard to believe because the capitulation of Zimbabwe comes a long way even before Grace the Gucci came into the scene. One of their own, Mnangagwa, whom the army believes is a Messiah of some sort this time around, has been close to Uncle Bob when the capitulation showed tell-tale signs until it actually happened. During the infamous Fifth Brigade era in the 80s when suspected anti-government elements among the Ndebele communities were identified and eliminated in the most horrific and brutal manner a human being could endure, Mnangagwa was the Minister of State Security and Chairman of the Joint High Command. An estimated 20,000 or more Ndebeles are reported to have perished under Mnangagwa’s watch. So removing Uncle Bob and replacing him with an equally tainted Mnangagwa is a complete farce. It is no doubt that the Zimbabwe Defence Force has been politicised for a long time. In 2005, Tsvangirai wrote Uncle Bob a letter copied to the AU, SADC and the UN in which he complained about how ZANU-PF had transformed the security institutions into what he termed ‘combative political units of your party ZANU-PF’. In the same letter, Tsvangirai observed that ‘…since 2001, you have remained silent when members of the ZDF and ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) officer corps make public political pronouncements and singling out the MDC as an enemy political formation that must be destroyed, while at the same time, the same officers profess unqualified allegiance to your political party, ZANU-PF’. There have been reports that several army generals are represented in ZANU-PF political structures – the politburo and the central committee respectively – a situation that does not augur well for the expected apolitical nature of the army. The Zimbabwe Daily News dated 5 September 2001 reported the Commissioner of Police Augustine Chihuri to have openly stated that he is member of ZANU-PF. While it is not wrong for him to belong to a political party, it was unprofessional of him, given his position, to have so publicly and boastfully declared. In this respect, nothing would suggest that the top brass of the security institutions would not have benefitted from say, the proceeds of farm invasions and other corrupt activities in Zimbabwe. If an honest audit of how many farms each in the top structures of the security institutions possessed, it may be shocking but not surprising.