The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 17th November 2017

Mugabe overthrown

by our African Affairs correspondent

ROBERT MUGABE, the liberation leader who has ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years, has been overthrown in a palace coup led by senior officers in the Zimbabwean Defence Forces. The army has moved armour into the capital, Harare, and taken over the national broadcasting centre and a number of ministry buildings. The former president is under house arrest whilst Grace, his wife and assumed heir, is believed to be abroad in Namibia. Meanwhile soldiers are rounding up prominent Mugabe supporters that they’ve branded “criminals in government who are bent on destabilising the country.”

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are calling it a coup but this was denied by Chief of Staff in the Zimbabwe National Army, Major-General Sibusiso Moyo, who said, in a televised address, that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces would guarantee the safety of Mugabe and his family, and was only “targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice.”

General Moyo assured Zimbabweans at home and abroad, as well as the international community, that this was not a military takeover and that the situation would soon return to normal. “To both our people and the world beyond our borders we wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover of government,” he said.

“What the Zimbabwe Defence Forces is doing is to pacify a degenerating political, social and economic situation in our country which if not addressed may result in a violent conflict,

“As soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect the situation to return to normalcy.” But no one can predict when that will happen. All troops leave has been cancelled and all military personnel have been ordered to report to their barracks immediately.

The army moved following Mugabe’s dismissal of vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa last week on charges of disloyalty and deceit. Mnangagwa is the leader of a powerful group within Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party known as the ‘Lacoste faction’ because of his ‘crocodile’ nick-name.

Mnangagwa, a veteran of the war of independence and once one of Mugabe’s staunchest comrades, clearly hoped that he would be Mugabe’s chosen successor. His supporters have long opposed Grace Mugabe’s presidential ambitions, which were backed by the rival ‘Generation 40’ faction. Meanwhile an unholy alliance between Zimbabwe’s liberation war veterans and the remaining white farmers from the former Commercial Farmers Union came together to back Mnangagwe.

South African President Jacob Zuma said on Wednesday that he had received a call from Robert Mugabe who said he was fine and being held by the army at his home. Zuma called for calm and restraint, and has expressed hope that developments in Zimbabwe would not lead to unconstitutional changes of government as that would be contrary to both SADC [Southern African Development Community] and African Union positions.”

Meanwhile People’s China, which has invested heavily in Zimbabwe, has dismissed media speculation of Chinese involvement in the coup following reports that General Constantino Chiwenga, the man behind the takeover, had visited Beijing last week.

China has brought about $30 million per month into Zimbabwe in recent years and is the single largest source of Foreign Direct Investment for the country. The money has gone into the development of the tobacco industry, solar power plants and other projects. China is Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner and Beijing has written off a debt worth $40 million as part of a larger African economy stimulus.

The Chinese yuan became an official currency in Zimbabwe in January, on a par with the US dollar, the South African rand and the Botswana pula. The Zimbabwean dollar, which circulated from 1980—2009, was withdrawn after hitting record-high hyperinflation of up to 500 billion per cent during the 2009 crisis.