by Nkosana Dlamini
OUTSPOKEN war veterans national chair Christopher Mutsvangwa says the alleged military intervention which forced then President Robert Mugabe to abandon his job in the last two weeks was a “counter coup” to former first lady’s Grace’s “bedroom coup”.
The alleged coup by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) was inspired by worry over Mugabe’s perceived intention to facilitate Grace’s rise to the presidency.
The military sprang into action after the 93-year-old moved to expel from government and the ruling Zanu PF party all those opposed to his wife.
Also of concern was the former President’s failure to reverse an economic crisis that has left the country on a knife edge.
However, while the military has endeared itself with the majority, it has failed to escape the legal scrutiny with renowned publisher Ibbo Mandaza saying the ZDF’s action flouted provisions of the national constitution which grant a sitting President the prerogative to order troops onto the streets.
“Section 202 (of the constitution) simply says the military shall not be partisan to any party; neither for or against any party.
“Section 212 is more specific; it simply says only the commander-in-chief of the armed forces can order the military onto the streets,” Mandaza said.
But Mutsvangwa, who has virtually been the de facto face of the controversial military intervention, denied this was close to a coup.
“There was no coup. There was a counter-coup,” Mutsvangwa told guests at a SAPES policy dialogue forum on Thursday.
“The coup was carried out by Grace when her senior husband was losing his faculties and sleeping all the time.
“She just uses a marriage certificate to get her cohorts at State House to start running this government. I saw it in cabinet, I told you.
“So, I am not talking about some detached observation from somebody who was outside. I was in the politburo; I was in cabinet.
“Grace, a mad woman with no brains, was in charge of the country on behalf of her cohorts and we are revolutionaries; we don’t carry out any coups.
“We protect what the people want and that’s what we did and if there is anybody has issues with that you try to form your own army.”
In his comments, Mandaza said the country’s long desired reform agenda has been held back by recent political developments which saw exiled vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa return home to take over from Mugabe.
“We have a situation now where the military which is part of the executive or under the executive is above the executive,” he said.
With a visible military hand running the affairs of the country, Mandaza warned, the Zimbabwe was headed for “command elections”.
The Harare based academic said the real coup in Zimbabwe took place in 2008 in which Mugabe was felled by long-time rival Morgan Tsvangirai but muscled his way back though a violent run-off election which saw Tsvangirai pull out in protest.
“Someone won elections. Mugabe had conceded, by the way; 24 hours later it was reversed and we said then that the military was on the ascendancy as if it was ever on the decline.
“The military has been supreme in the history of modern Zimbabwe, even during the Rhodesian days in the war (Josiah, Zanla commander) Tongogara was the most powerful man, while Solomon Mujuru became powerful with Chiwenga now being very supreme since 2008,” he said.