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How Trouble sees It: Collateral blessing!

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Zimbabwe’s new interim President Emmerson Mnangagwa reviews the honour guard for the first time as president after being sworn-in during a ceremony at the National Sports Stadium in Harare, on November 24 2017.<br />/ AFP PHOTO / Jekesai NJIKIZANA

Many commentators have virtually rebuked the jubilant crowds of celebrating Zimbabweans on the streets of Harare, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and London for celebrating the exit of Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe from the presidency of Zimbab­we. These clever commentators and analysts point out that the army did what they did for their own purpose and profit. They then go into history.

“It is a ‘smart coup’ in the sense that the military combined the frustrations of a restive population, internal party structures and international sympathy to remove a sitting president. It thereby gained legitimacy for an otherwise partisan and unconstitutional political act – toppling an elected government.” This by Enoch C. Mudzamiri, a doctoral candidate at the University of South Africa with research interest in post-liberation political parties.

We know, and we are told, that the Zimbabwean army was party of the liberation army that freed Zimbab­we from white minority oppression in Rhodesia. Thereafter, the same army has been the guarantor of both the party and the government of Zimbab­we. The army was responsible for the well documented massacre in Matabeleland that destroyed all Nkomo inspired opposition to Robert Mugabe. In 2000 and the years after the same army declared in the face of possible electoral defeat for ZANU-PF, that the military will not salute any winner other than Robert Mugabe. Furthermore, the army was responsible for torture, disappearance and killings that put the fear of Mugabe in the opposition.

And for all of these services to the party and the government the army has been richly rewarded. They were given a share in the Zimbabwean government plundering of the mineral resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The army also received revenues from Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields. And specifically there is the small matter of some US$20 billion supposedly for the military handled by Mnangagwa minister of defence and his friend General Chiwenga, head of the Zimbabwean army.

And if you do not believe any or all of these stories just look at the crocodile waiting to cross over to Zimbab­we and snatch your democracy voters’ list, votes, ballot boxes and all the results!!!

There is no doubt that the generals have covered their activities – both in front of the scenes and behind the scenes – with “veneer of constitutionality”. Anywhere else where the army takes over the airwaves, blocks State House with military tanks, seizes the parliamentary buildings and puts the president and their commander in chief under House arrest, this would be seen as a coup d’etat.

As such, the African Union, using the local regional organisation, the Southern African Development Community SADC, would rush soldiers to stop the action immediately, out of their love for democracy and constitutionality!

But this is Mugabe’s Zimbab­we where the army has always known what to do. And what to do is to declare what you are doing as different from what others do in front of the scene. Behind the scene, the army has violently arrested the minister of Finance and handcuffed him. They have invaded his house to reveal piles and piles of currency as well as suitcases of the same kept safely in the house. The same army had arrested the leader of the ZANU-PF youth league and locked him up. That young man was stupid enough to claim, in a muddle up of Nelson Mandela’s famous statement, that he would die for Mugabe! While in lock up he was made to write an apology to General Chiwenga and read same on their seized television station. The young man confessed that he was misled by his youth.

Perhaps the cleverest thing that the army did behind the scenes is to get the police hidden away from the public sitting somewhere. There is one photograph of the police around parliament forced to sit on the ground in a long line. They off the streets of Harare, for which the taxi drivers of Harare have expressed their profound gratitude to the army. More on this in a minute. The police have been the face of the armed and unarmed forces propping up the party and the government. The police put up the barricades to prevent the people from gathering in the streets. The police threw the tear gas when they gathered. The police pointed the water cannons when they marched. So, get the police off the streets and let the people gather and march and demonstrate against Mugabe. Let them do what they have always wanted to do to their hearts’ content.

This is a unique coincidence of historical interests coming together. The Zimbabwean army, along with its favourite political party, wanted to get rid of Robert Mugabe because he wants to impose his wife as president of the country. To do this he made the bold move of sacking his Vice President and friend of the army from the party and the government. His security details were withdrawn and those in the know, including him, warned him about the dangers that henceforth attend his every step. He left the country for South Africa after promising to return within three weeks to lead the struggle against Mugabe.

What has been the fate of other sacked and expelled Vice Presidents? Joice Mujuru is still around and she has formed a new political party. But others have been less lucky. Some possible rivals and or successors to Mugabe have met with road accidents. One got burnt in his house. Mnangagwa was going to survive and save the party from Mugabe and the army from saluting Grace Mugabe as their commander-in-chief.

So, the army and their generals did not act to restore democracy to Zimbab­we. They did not act to ensure a level playing ground for all political parties in all future elections. Case proved beyond reasonable doubt. But still yet, as they say in Nigerian English. There is collateral blessing.

The taxi drivers of Harare thanked the army and the general for taking the police off the streets of Harare. Everyday, these drivers claim that they have to pay US$8 bribe to the police. By taking them off the streets, the drivers are saving US$8 per day for the good of their family. That is what is called collateral blessing. For this, let the people celebrate. Question: Will the taxi drivers resume payment of bribes when the police are back on the streets?
(bankole.omotoso@elizadeuniversity.edu.ng)


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