On November 14, the military takes over Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare
Robert Mugabe, now the former President of Zimbabwe, handed in his resignation amidst the tensions following the military coup in Zimbabwe. On 14th November, Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, was taken over by the military and the President and his wife were put under house arrest. The military took over the state broadcaster and announced that the President and his wife were perfectly safe and that a few socio-economic problems were being taken care of. In the process, a few cabinet ministers were arrested. After the coup, Mugabe tried to transfer power to his wife, Grace Mugabe. However, this was met with widespread contempt from his own party members of ZANU – PF.
The possible reason behind the coup is collapsed economy and sacking of the VP, Mnangagwa
Zimbabwe has been under Mugabe’s rule for nearly forty years. Even though it boasts of being a democracy, it has been observed internationally that Mugabe has always manipulated the elections to favour himself. His Marxist approach has done the economy more harm than good. In 2000, when he seized the lands of white farmers, the country had faced a severe food shortage and a subsequent famine. The unemployment rate increased and today it is about 80%. He has also been known to abuse and torture civil society activists.
The trigger, however, was when the Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa was fired by Mugabe. He was a powerful member of the ZANU – PF and this decision did not go down well with a lot of party members. After he was fired, he fled to South Africa and his lifetime membership to the party was revoked. Mnangagwa and Grace Mugabe have been tied up in a war of succession for years now. The sacking of Mnangagwa was seen as a move to eliminate him from this succession race and give a clear passage to Mrs. Mugabe.
However, this is not the first time Africa has seen a military coup
Africa has seen a fair share of successful and failed military coups. Since the 1960s the continent has witnessed approximately 200 coups. The high cases of military coups have been attributed to the unstable economic and political systems in most countries. It has also been observed that most Presidents rig the elections and stay put for longer than what is permitted. This leads to concentration of power in the hands of a few powerful ones, leading to widespread corruption.
What’s next for Zimbabwe?
Now that Mugabe has resigned, the former Vice President, Mnangagwa is all set to be sworn in as the President. Nicknamed ‘the crocodile’ he has served senior positions in the cabinet and is known to have played a vital role in the Gukurahundi massacres in which thousands of Ndebele civilians were killed.
What now has to be seen is whether he too, like Mugabe, will keep the reins in his hand or practice democracy in its true sense and bring in real change.