Would SADC and the AU endorse a military coup in Zimbabwe?

Media reports that Mugabe and his Zanu-pf party are again pushing for elections before the end of the year despite lack of key electoral reforms point towards what looks like a military coup.

Mugabe
Mugabe

It would be synonymous with a military coup because, without a clean voters roll, a new constitution adopted in a referendum, security sector and electoral reforms – and obviously the necessary funds among other essentials, it is unlikely to hold any serious polls in the present environment.

It is arguable that Mugabe is pressing for elections this year ahead of the GPA’s schedule of 2013 or after, because of his poor health, advancing age and internal party disquiet over his unresolved succession crisis.

Mugabe is unlikely to anoint a successor because he believes he is the only one who can hold Zanu-pf together, according to former Zanu-pf legislator Michael Mataure who was described as a party contact by the United States Embassy in cable 00Harare5829 which was released by the WikiLeaks website.

That could explain Mugabe’s sudden return home from the Far East despite missing the ANC centenary celebrations, and being on leave until 1st February 2012, amid jostling for power in his party, unless it had something to do with his sister’s illness, Bridget who has been in a coma for 18 months.

There are many other reasons why Mugabe and Zanu-pf are not ready for what most people would want to see as the minimum requirement for internationally supervised and UN monitored, free and fair, peaceful elections in Zimbabwe – the absence of violence and intimidation.

It is ironic that Zanu-pf claims to be ready for presidential or harmonised elections, when it is arguably scared of its own shadow by reportedly planning to postpone its primaries until after the referendum.

Signs that Mugabe might push for elections include, the resurgence of violence in the form of the illegal seizure of white owned businesses, such as that of Border Timbers, the last two fishing lodges and a small game reserve on the Hippo Valley Estates in the Lowveld and Kasukuwere’s renewed threats to move on international banks.

However, if Zanu-pf hardliners could be banking on SADC and the African Union and the rural areas for support of their “snap elections” which will arguably be a military coup in the current situation, they need to rethink.

SADC, the African Union and the United Nations suspended Madagascar in response to a military coup in that country in 2009 which overthrew Ravalomanana’s elected government.

The message got home to other flashpoints when the African Union adopted a resolution against military coups or “unconstitutional changes of government” at its summit in Addis Ababa in 2010.

Neither would any ‘coup plotters’ bank on the latest ‘discovery’ of skeletons in a Chinhoyi mineshaft for their electoral support, because that will backfire as happened with Chibondo skeletons some of which had body fluids raising fears they were those of 2008 election violence victims.

As for the rural areas which were admittedly the party’s backbone in the 1980 elections, a lot has changed since then. In the absence of genuine opinion polls some of the rural people have declined media claims that they prop-up Zanu-pf.

One rural resident reportedly said: “Musatinakurira nyoka mhenyu iyi vedu we-e. Musatinakurira Dhiyabhorosi nyoka’ (Do not scoop this live snake ‘Diabolos the serpent’ with a stick and toss it in our direction please). For more, see Benjamin Semwayo, Zanu-pf unpopular even in rural areas, SW Radio Africa, 18 March 2011.

It is very unlikely that SADC and the AU would endorse a military coup in Zimbabwe by whichever party or individuals – educated or otherwise. Otherwise, civil society would be justified to invite the United Nations and Nato to protect the people.

One hopes Zimbabwe will be spared of any unconstitutional change of government, no matter how impatient and desperate some people seem to be.

Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, Political Analyst, London, [email protected]

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