Military coups are the least of a laughing matter. They usually involve heavy gunfire, loss of life and bloodshed. Civilians are mostly affected by such situations and adversely so. Typical day to day activities such as in businesses, schools and hospitals are rudely disrupted making matters more complicated. The Zimbabwe Military Coup and swearing in of new President Mnangagwa, however, was in many ways different.
There was no heavy gunfire despite the heavy presence of the intimidating Zimbabwe Defence Forces’ tanks and armored vehicles. The populace cheered wildly in support of the coup.
Robert Mugabe, the then President, initially seemed undaunted by the imminent coup but finally bowed to the pressure and resigned on 21st November 2017. This was after he and his wife Grace Mugabe were sacked from ZANU-PF, the ruling party. He had also been threatened with impeachment should he fail to resign. His long-time ally turned foe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was appointed the leader of ZANU-PF. Mnangagwa who had been sacked as the Vice President by Mugabe himself had fled to South Africa from where it emerged he plotted the military take over. He was also slated to take over the presidency. Meanwhile, many Zimbabweans kept pouring to the streets in celebration.
On November 24th 2017, Mr. Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in as President. In his speech, he promised to restore the economy and provide jobs to curb unemployment in Zimbabwe, which is reported to be over 90% at times. He also pledged to reverse crippling Mugabe policies to encourage foreign investments. For instance, he assured compensation for white farmers from whom Mugabe had grabbed land.
Mnangagwa: Same Monkeys, Different Forest
Like it happens in most coups, power structures are drastically changed after that. But in Zimbabwe, not much has changed. It is more of a ‘same monkeys, different forest’ situation. It seems the people of Zimbabwe may not benefit from this coup. It was obvious many were tired of the tyrannical Mugabe regime which had plunged the country into a deep corruptive mess and economical dysfunction. The change of presidency spelled hope for them, but the new leader may not be so different after all. ‘The Crocodile’, as Mnangagwa is nicknamed due to his ruthlessness, has already shown signs he could turn out like his predecessor and mentor Mugabe.
Mnangagwa recently chose his cabinet. The appointments faced a lot of criticism as it was majorly seen as mere recycling of former ministers as well as rewarding his loyalists. Sibusiso Moyo, an army general who coordinated the coup, was appointed as minister for foreign affairs. Air Marshal Perrance Shiri, who had been implicated in a former coup, was appointed the minister for land and agriculture. A great public uproar followed. The opposition weighed on the matter as well as saying the appointments were not inclusive enough and violated the constitution. As a result, some of the selections were dropped. The advisor of the President, Mr. Mutsvangwa, however, came out and defended the President, saying it was too early to begin criticizing Mnangagwa.
It remains to be seen how things unfold in this South African country and what comes next.
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