The army in Zimbabwe says what it has staged is no coup. Facts on the ground beg to disagree.
“Every coup I covered in Africa in the seven years I was there, started with soldiers seizing State TV,” wrote Rukmini Callimachi, a New York Times correspondent whose beat includes covering terrorist sect ISIS.
Callimachi’s tweet was a direct reference to the Zimbabwe military’s position that what is happening right now isn’t a coup, but an operation meant to arrest corrupt persons around President Robert Mugabe; a man who has been leading the Southern African nation since 1980.
According to Sibusiso Moyo, a Major General and Chief of Staff Logistics, what is going on in Zimbabwe is no military takeover or ousting of a dictator who has successfully transformed his country into a pariah.
“His Excellency the president… and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed”, the military announced in a statement.
“We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes… that are causing social and economic suffering in the country. As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy,” the statement added.
The ruling ZANU-PF party in Zimbabwe is also in denial.
“There was no coup, only a bloodless transition which saw corrupt and crooked persons being arrested and an elderly man who had been taken advantage of by his wife being detained. The few bangs that were heard were from crooks who were resisting arrest, but they are now detained”, ZANU PF says.
However, if it smells and tastes like a coup, it is a coup. Dress it up like anything else, a Pig is still a Pig.
When soldiers seize the reins of power around Africa, they first head for the media offices. We saw it time and again in Nigeria during the first and second republics. State House media suddenly plays host to gun wielding soldiers, a paper containing the army's agenda is shoved before the news anchor, backroom staff are tied up and blindfolded and the jackboots kick some a** to drive home the message.
Zimbabwe’s current situation has the feel of some cast iron dejavu.
According to a Reuters story on the development, “Soldiers deployed across the Zimbabwe capital Harare on Tuesday and seized the state broadcaster after Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party accused the head of the military of treason, prompting frenzied speculation of a coup.
“….Two hours later, soldiers overran the headquarters of the ZBC, Zimbabwe’s state broadcaster and a principal Mugabe mouthpiece, and ordered staff to leave. Several ZBC workers were manhandled, two members of staff and a human rights activist said”.
Gun totting soldiers perched on armored tanks have barricaded roads and government buildings, gun shots are ringing round the capital of Harare and key ministers in the Mugabe cabinet have been picked up and placed under house arrest.
Mugabe himself is nowhere in sight.
If this isn’t a coup, then we need a new meaning for the word.
“The coup that isn't a coup. Zimbabwe military effectively takes control to oust members of a faction close to Mugabe's wife. They say he's still president. But their actions overturn his authority and underline his impotence”, wrote Robyn Dixon who is the LA Times Johannesburg correspondent.
Struggling Zimbabwe is now in a state of uncertainty and this current crisis stemmed from Mugabe’s wife’s bid to succeed her husband.
Grace Mugabe's ambition made the ruling party fire prominent members. Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa also lost his job to carve a succession path for Mrs. Mugabe.
ALSO READ: Zimbabwe military announces takeover
Forget whatever else you read today and take this to heart—there’s just been a coup in Zimbabwe and no one quite knows what the country’s future holds at the moment.