Zimbabwe crisis: 'The people leading this coup are guilty of everything Robert Mugabe is guilty of'

We can't celebrate Mugabe's removal until his successor is confirmed, says Mgcini Nyoni

Mugabe will leave a huge void and it must be filled properly

Friday, November 17, 2017

Mgcini Nyoni, a poet, playwright and photographer based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, has written this moving article about Robert Mugabe and the next steps for her beleaguered country.

Ask the majority of Zimbabweans and they are euphoric at the assumed fall of the mighty Robert Mugabe. In fact, this has sucked out all of the fear or uncertainty that a coup would usually instill.

I also want Mugabe gone. An end to the Mugabe presidency by whatever non-violent means, will be good for the country. His brand of leadership has been very toxic as it was never about development of the country, but mainly centered around power retention at all costs.

But I will not celebrate a coup. I refuse to accept that the same people who have propped up Mugabe, for almost 40 years, can turn around and be the saviours of the country. 

The army, of course, says what is currently happening is not a coup. They insist Mugabe is still their Commander in Chief. Sorry, but that's ludicrous. Who puts their own commander in chief under house arrest/confinement and still insist it’s not a coup? 

The army is probably saying it’s not a coup for purposes of legitimising whatever results from the seizure of power. A coup is something that is generally frowned upon the world over. Perhaps they are hoping to convince the president to resign and reinstate the army’s preferred candidate, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

But neither Mnangagwa nor Grace Mugabe is, in my opinion, fit to be the leader of Zimbabwe. Grace Mugabe is rather too erratic and Mnangagwa is too invested in what is wrong in our country. His clear involvement in the Gukurahundi massacres - when more than 20,000 people were killed in the 1980s - is too big a stain on his character to just ignore in the name of wanting change.

The army insists it is merely arresting criminals surrounding the president. What the generally basically mean is that they are getting rid of the leaders of the G40 faction of the ruling Zanu-PF party [a clique of younger politicians within Mugabe's party].

I don't know how far the army will go in their quest to vanquish G40. In fact, because of this uncertainty, I am personally even more wary of what I say now than when the army took over. But, while I have never belonged to any political party, I sympathise with G40, as I understand their ideology of engagement and development. Zimbabwe should move away from politics of the liberation struggle and start filling important government positions on merit.

But that process of change has to start with Mugabe's resignation. As things stand, it is being reported that Mugabe is refusing to resign and that puts the army in a very tricky position. They can’t force him to leave as this will rubbish their claim that what is happening is not a coup.

In reality, it's simple. Mugabe should resign and be replaced by a transitional authority entirely made up of neutrals. Those already close to power or those who were once close to power should not be part of the transitional authority as I believe they are opportunists who don’t have the country’s interests at heart.

Many argue that any change is welcome in Zimbabwe, even if it’s a takeover by the army. Well, perhaps they are right: A lot of Zimbabwe’s problems are as a result of how the world perceives Zimbabwe in light of the Mugabe presidency. In the absence of Mugabe, it's easy to assume that things are now better in Zimbabwe, even if they are not. The power of perception should not be underestimated.

But people should be careful what they wish for. Because the people leading the coup are guilty of everything Mugabe is guilty of.