Former United States of America Ambassador to Zimbabwe Bruce Wharton has written a document that gives an insight into the November 2017 coup that toppled Robert Mugabe from power.
Wharton also argues that there is nothing beneficial that the coup brought to the people of Zimbabwe.
Announcing the document Ambassador Wharton said, “Just published analysis of Zimbabwe’s November 2017 coup. We find that the coup did little to advance the reforms most Zimbabweans want, political or economic. No such thing as a good coup.”
Main points from the report are below:
CHIHURI PLANNED TO ARREST CHIWENGA AT HARARE AIRPORT
Triggering the Coup In early November 2017, Mugabe hinted that he might name his wife as vice president. This strengthened the G40’s hopes of taking power and threatened the old guard and the military.
The ruling party’s youth league called for Mugabe to dismiss Mnangagwa, and Grace joined in the chorus.
Provincial ruling-party committees began to pass resolutions calling for Grace to be made vice president. On 6 November, Mugabe dismissed Emmerson Mnangagwa as vice president, and Mnangagwa fled to Mozambique fearing for his safety.
On 12 November, then commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Gen. Constantino Chiwenga returned from an official trip to China. The G40, working with Zimbabwe Republic Police commander Augustine Chihuri, planned to arrest Chiwenga upon his arrival at the airport in Harare.
Chiwenga, however, was tipped off, and soldiers disguised as baggage handlers overpowered the police and prevented Chiwenga’s arrest.
On 13 November, Chiwenga released a statement warning that the “purging” of ZANU-PF officials must stop.
In response, a party spokesman accused Chiwenga of “treasonable actions.” That was it. On 14 November, there were reports of unusual movement of military vehicles on the northwestern approaches to Harare.
That night, military forces took control of state television and radio and placed Robert and Grace Mugabe under house arrest at their residence.
Security forces arrested or pursued a number of G40-aligned government officials. Some gunfire was heard in the city, and a few G40 officials sought refuge or went into hiding.
On 15 November, Maj. Gen. Sibusiso Moyo spoke to the people of Zimbabwe via state television and radio.
He denied that there had been a coup and said that the military was “only targeting criminals around [Mugabe] who are committing crimes … that are causing social and economic suffering in the country.” Moyo sought to reassure the country that Mugabe and his family were “safe and sound.”
Moyo went on to say, “As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”
ZIMBABWE HAS NOT CHANGED MUCH
While Mugabe has left the political scene, he and Grace continue to live in peace in Zimbabwe, much as his predecessor Ian Smith did for more than twenty years after majority rule came in 1980. But other than a different president, Zimbabwe has not changed much.
As the events January 2019 have shown—the grossly disproportionate use of police and military force to stop protests and looting—Zimbabwe’s government/ruling party remains willing to do whatever it takes to remain in power.
Credible reporting by independent media and NGOs indicate twelve to eighteen citizens killed, scores wounded, and hundreds arrested in a three-week long government crackdown against protestors and members of the MDC opposition party.
Most disturbingly, there are credible reports of security forces raping women to suppress protests.18 Tragically, this government/ruling party use of violence against its own citizens looks just like what the Mugabe-led government/ruling party did in the mid-1980s and the early 2000s.
NEW DISPANSATION?…The threat of another coup is still alive
The government’s economic managers continue to look for short-term responses to systemic problems, print fake money, and extract hard currency from any place they can find it.
The military remains the strongest, most capable institution in the country, and the High Court’s blessing of the November 2017 coup keeps the threat of another coup alive.
The executive branch of government has subordinated the judiciary and completely overshadows the parliament.
Bankable title to agricultural land remains only a promise, so there is no collateral for new investment that could revive commercial agriculture and Zimbabwe’s economy.
Mining continues to generate some export earnings, but disputes with Chinese and Russian mining companies have hurt those ventures, and Western companies see more secure opportunities in neighboring countries.
Much of the popular gratitude for the military’s removal of Mugabe evaporated on 1 August 2018 when soldiers shot and killed six protesters.
19 Public support for Mnangagwa and hope for reform is being trampled out of existence by the brutal actions of security forces in January 2019.
Hopes that the coup of November 2017 opened a new beginning for Zimbabwe have proven false.
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