By Prince Kurupati
On Monday the 14th, many Zimbabweans especially those from the country’s two main cities Harare and Bulawayo took to the streets to demonstrate against the massive fuel-price increases. The government reacted violently as it descended heavily on protesters with reports claiming that at least 12 people lost their lives.
While Zimbabweans and the world at large closely followed the ‘proceedings’ with a view to see what the government would do at the end, everyone was caught by surprise when a new ‘issue’ came to the fore just as normality was returning to the streets. What many thought was just a stay away gone wrong ‘turned out’ to be a failed attempt at a coup (in the words of a few bigwigs in the ZANU (PF) party.
Well, the question many ask is how could this be. Is it a case of the organizers of the stay away (or maybe let’s say the poster boys) playing a front for another ZANU (PF) faction i.e. calling for a stay away knowing fully well that at one point or the other people will go into the streets and violence will ensue thus creating a conducive environment for coup plotters to do their work. With a sober mind, this is utterly unthinkable more so considering the fact that in the past, ZANU (PF) has demonstrated how intelligent it is when it comes to shifting blame. With many eyes looking forward to the ruling party and government’s response following the unfortunate events of the past week, what better way than to throw in a new ingredient into the mix which will divert people’s attention from government’s violent crackdown on protesters.
Be that as it may, whether the coup issue is real or it’s just a sideshow to divert attention, there is one fact and that is, coups beget coups. Not discrediting the recent harmonized elections, the current Zimbabwean government came into power via a coup. As such, the adage “coups beget coups” can at any point show its ugly face in practice in Zimbabwe.
Was the ‘Adage’ About To Show Its Ugly Face This Past Week
In many quarters, there is more to the coup rumours hence one can convincingly say that Zimbabwe could have witnessed another coup. A few days after his inauguration (following the July elections), President Mnangagwa publicly stated that he was aware of elements in his own party who had plans to impeach him. As such, from the word go, it’s clear that there is an ever-present threat to Mnangagwa’s presidency. Mnangagwa, however, did not disclose the ‘elements’ (as to be expected). From own investigations, rumours and leaks from the party, many suggest that one of the current Vice President, Constantino Chiwenga is one of the elements.
According to reports, Chiwenga by the time of the first coup had eyed the presidency for himself. However, he knew how difficult it would be for his government to be recognized if he were to assume the role himself immediately after the coup as he was still the commander of the military at the time. As such, with him as the president, it would have been obvious that a coup had taken place in Zimbabwe. Therefore, to give a veil of legitimacy to the coup, Chiwenga opted to place a civilian in the role and the man chosen was Emmerson Mnangagwa. According to the plan, Mnangagwa had to serve for just a single term and then pave way for Chiwenga. However, Mnangagwa’s desire to run for two terms has according to reports angered Chiwenga and it is due to this desire that Chiwenga is seeking to ouster Mnangagwa and take the presidency, something that he has longed for, for so long.
The ZANU (PF) bigwigs who have stated that there was a plot to ouster Mnangagwa cite the failure to garner the required numbers (in Parliament) as the reason for the failure of the coup. They state that Chiwenga wanted to execute the coup just like the first one i.e. force Mnangagwa to resign and if he declines, use the party two-thirds majority in Parliament to impeach him. Faced with the prospect of a humiliating impeachment, the plan would see Mnangagwa tender in his resignation just like Mugabe did.
Whether there is substance to these rumours or not, the fact that there are rumours is enough to suggest that all is not well in ZANU (PF). After all, they say where there is smoke, there is fire.