This past week, the country of Zimbabwe has undergone a military coup, culminating in the change of their president Robert Mugabe. The situation is volatile, as Mugabe has publicly stated that despite pressure from the army he intends to remain president of the country. This comes after being fired by the leading party this past weekend. Mugabe has been president since 1987 and was the representative of the party who enacted the coup, the ZANU-PF by placing Mugabe under house arrest. On November 14, Mugabe was placed under house arrest by the military along with first lady, Grace Mugabe.
Mugabe is the oldest head of state in the world, at 93 years old. Mugabe has been a divisive figure being praised as a revolutionary hero of the African liberation struggle who helped to free Zimbabwe from British colonialism, imperialism, and white minority rule. He has also been derided as a dictator responsible for economic mismanagement, widespread corruption, anti-white racial discrimination, human rights abuses, suppression of political critics and crimes against humanity.
The two figures have been unpopular recently, with many citizens expressing worry that the first lady would replace vice president Mnangagwa. This house arrest was announced on Nov. 15, the same day there were pictures released of Mugabe smiling and negotiating with the army commander at the state house. These pictures were to point out that Mugabe was allowing the transfer of power to take place. This picture was released by state-run media.
On Nov. 17 the army, which continues to refer to Mugabe as President, allowed him to make his first public appearance since house arrest. He appeared at a graduation ceremony to polite applause. It is unclear at this point other than through social media what public opinion is on the coup, however a multitude of reports state that it is forz the military to perform the transfer of power. This was completed on Nov. 18 as 1.6 million of the estimated 2.4 million citizens of Harare the capital of Zimbabwe pour out into the streets to protest a return from Mugabe. A demonstration of this size elicits police response and in their address to citizens they stated that they would’ve had to respond to the demonstration even days ago due to the massive amounts of support for the protest.
On Nov. 19, the Zimbabwe African National Union — Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), which is the leading party in Zimbabwe since it gained its independence in 1980, indicated a timeline for Mugabe to step down, beginning at noon on Nov. 20. In a speech addressed to the people of Zimbabwe on Nov. 19, he did not indicate that he would step down, which elicited a massive negative reaction from citizens of the state. Many are calling for his impeachment or even more serious options.
As of this publishing the deadline has passed and Mugabe has refused to step down. Further action could likely soon.
The situation in Zimbabwe is incredibly volatile and is always changing so stay tuned to The Brock Press as this situation continues to develop.