By definition a coup is a sudden and decisive change of government illegally or by force and from an analytical view, the real Coup in Zimbabwe was in 2014
By definition a coup is a sudden and decisive change of government illegally or by force. The rise of Grace Mugabe on to the political scene and power was a clear signal of the national descent into anarchy- political anarchy. It is very clear that as she rose in the party structures she also amassed more and more power uncensored. From the time of the Mujuru sacking in 2014 a de facto civilian coup had taken place in Zimbabwe. It was clear executive power had divested into the hands of the first lady. The President was no longer in control.
Why a civilian coup? Yes we all know the party state conflation that has obtained in Zimbabwe since independence. Zanu had become synonymous with government. Since the rise of Grace Mugabe executive power suddenly shifted from Munhumutapa Building the seat of government to wherever Grace Mugabe was at any given time. Grace Mugabe was elected or appointed as the secretary for women affairs in the ruling party Zanu PF. That position despite the clear party state conflation has no direct influence on executive functions as she was not even a member of cabinet.
The civilian coup was executed and consolidated with the aid of a few members of the executive.
As can be seen Grace’s attack on government officials always started on their government roles not party roles. In any case she never attacked their roles in the party. Therefore effectively she was dispensing executive functions. The President was no longer in control. Yes in their party it was ok for her to attack them for not implementing party policies in government but it was not ok for her to make pronouncements on their official government roles as was happening. Government has a clear monitoring and evaluation system for its officials and parties have their monitoring and evaluation systems for their government deployees.
The constitution of Zimbabwe is very clear on the roles and functions of the President and these functions are limited to the Presidium.
There is no constitutional role for the First lady in Zimbabwe or anywhere else in the world. By doing what she was doing she had executed a civilian coup and in the process captured the executive
The President willingly or unwillingly abdicated his executive functions which translates to abdicating his constitutional functions. Practically the First Lady had usurped the President’s constitutional powers and executive functions through unconstitutional means whether its in the bedroom as others would want to say or taking advantage of his advanced age. Either way it points to a civilian coup.
In terms of the constitution (Section 88) executive authority derives from the people of Zimbabwe and it vests in the President who exercises it through cabinet. Dr Grace Mugabe was neither the President nor in cabinet. So by what authority was she presiding over government functions?
In terms of the constitution (Section 89-90) the President is the Head of State and Government and therefore, its only him or his designate in terms of the constitution, who can make pronouncements on government functions. Therefore, it is the President’s (Not his wife’s) constitutional duty to uphold, defend, obey and respect the constitution as the supreme law of the nation. By allowing, willingly or unwillingly, his wife Grace to usurp his constitutional duties the President was virtually failing to play his constitutional role. By all standards he was incapacitated.
The constitution (Section 100-101) is also clear that if for any reason the President is unable to exercise his official functions those functions must be assumed and exercised by a vice President or a minister designated by the President or a Minister nominated by cabinet.
If anyone outside the confines of the constitution exercises executive authority, functions and duties of the President by definition and all intents and purposes has staged a coup. This means a constitutional order has been subverted. Executive power has been usurped. Hence a civilian coup environment would have ensued.
Apart from protecting Zimbabwe, its national security and interests and its territorial integrity it is the function of the defence forces to uphold the Zimbabwe constitution (Section 212).
A coup in whatever form is an abrogation of the supreme law of Zimbabwe. The army played its part in defending the constitution and returning Zimbabwe to constitutionalism.
In real terms what happened in Zimbabwe is not a military coup but an intervention to reverse a coup.
Whether the army had other intentions or not the move was a logical effluxion. The army is the last line of defence for the constitution after the President who is mandated to do same.
On another note the situation has created a perfect opportunity for the defence forces to shed off the perceived tag of partisanship. Whether we want to believe it or not the army move was in defence of national interests and the national constitution. A civilian coup was in operation.
We all want Zimbabwe working again. With events taking place in the past four years it was fast becoming a pipe dream that it would indeed work again. With the rise of the First Lady the future was indeed humid and overcast. Approval or disapproval the military move may be described as a positive wrong (if at all it qualifies to be called a wrong) to right a negative wrong.
We should take them at their word that they want to see a peaceful, prosperous, civilian run Zimbabwe where rights and freedoms in their totality are observed and respected. Now that they have started the ball rolling its imperative to create a conducive environment for the establishment of a representative national transitional government as a matter of urgency. The mandate of this representative and inclusive transitional animal is two fold. First is to arrest the debilitating economic meltdown that has devastated our people.
Secondly, because we are a constitutional democracy where power is transferred or retained through election, to prepare the country for free, fair and credible elections. Yes transition has begun. Zimbabwe is in irreversible transition. Things will never be the same again. To our gallant men and women in uniform Nzira dzemasoja dzekuzvibata nadzo should remain the guiding principles. You belong to Zimbabwe. And all of us regardless of political affiliation ARE Zimbabwe. It’s time to forgive and move on. A new beginning. The stage is set. God bless our country and return us to the ideals of the liberation struggle and constitutionalism. By Earnest Nyamukachi Conflict Analyst, Mediator and Researcher