Mnangagwa should warn Kabila of coup d’etat if he doesn’t step down

As Zimbabwe President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa visits the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and briefs President Joseph Kabila on the circumstances surrounding last year's military intervention - that saw the removal of long-term strongman Robert Gabriel Mugabe - he needs to give his counterpart some well-deserved advice on the eventual fate of tyrants who refuse to relinquish power.

Emmerson Mnangagwa

Mugabe, who had ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist – as his personal fiefdom – for 37 years, since its independence from Britain in 1980, was eventually forced to resign in November 2017, after the military took over state institutions, and held him under house arrest – in an operation codenamed ‘operation restore legacy’.
Mugabe, who used the very same military to ruthlessly oppress the nation – which had largely rejected him, especially after the 2008 elections, in which he lost to the late opposition MDC leader Morgan Richard Tsvangirai – was now being accused of becoming a puppet of his wife Grace and her G40 ZANU PF faction.
The G40 faction, had been gaining ground on its Lacoste rival faction in vicious ZANU PF infighting, which led to the expulsion of then vice president Mnangagwa a few weeks before the military intervened and removed Mugabe.
Mnangagwa, who led the Lacoste faction, had the backing of the country’s powerful military, and his expulsion from the vice presidency of both the ruling party and Zimbabwe, triggered what many view as a coup d’etat – opening the way for his ascension to the highest office.
A development that the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and African Union (AU) not only failed to condemn as a coup d’etat, but actually endorsed and praised.
Although, Mugabe had always been viewed by the people of Zimbabwe as a tyrant – symbolised by his brutal repression against any dissent, and questionable elections – the military never sought to be the protector of the people, but was rather pivotal in the atrocities.
Such an unprofessional conduct by the country’s military only served to embolden Mugabe to view himself as invincible and regarded the country as his family’s personal property.
In fact, in one of his birthday eve state television interviews, he said that he intended to rule until his 100th year – ‘as only God’ would take him away from the throne!
As much as he knew that the generality of the population no longer supported him, he, nonetheless, claimed that his continuous stay in power was due to popular support – a facade which was enforced by brute force and a skewed electoral playing field.
He also used his party’s majority in parliament to enact draconian laws that helped strengthen his grip on power.
As invincible as he imagined, his tyrannical rule did come to an end – albeit, at the hands of the military – his erstwhile henchmen.
As Mnangagwa visits Kabila, and explains the transition of power in Zimbabwe, it would be prudent for him to also give a word of warning to his host on the folly of refusing to relinquish power – and the possible consequences.
Kabila, whose constitutional mandate expired two years ago, refuses to step down and hold elections.
Similar to his comrade – ousted president Mugabe – Kabila has been appeased by both the SADC and AU – yet, that approach even failed to secure Mugabe’s grip on power.
The DRC strongman has resorted to brute force to stifle any dissenting voices – even unashamedly beating up and arresting religious leaders who would be conducting peaceful protests against his unconstitutional presidency.
As Kabila mulls amending the country’s constitution, enabling him to run for a third term, may Mnangagwa remind him that the very military power that he is so heavily reliant on to force himself on the people, will sooner or later most likely turn on him.
He may find it easy to brutalise innocent and unarmed civilians and clergymen, but one day, the birds will come home to roost.
In fact, Kabila does not need much reminding as his own father, the late president Laurent Desire Kabila, met his end at the hands of the military.
Therefore, it is not only for the benefit of the people of the DRC for Kabila to immediately relinquish powder and conduct peaceful free and fair elections, but it is also good for his very survival.
If Mnangagwa wants to convince the world that the military intervention in Zimbabwe was not merely the climax of vicious ZANU PF internal factional fighting, but the long-overdue removal of a tyrant – who had terrorised the nation for decades with impunity – then he needs to be candid with Kabila that he must go, or else those with guns will most likely force his hand.
…and the SADC and AU will not do a thing!
° Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. He is the Programmes Director with the Zimbabwe Network for Social Justice (ZimJustice). Please call/WhatsApp: +263782283975, or email: [email protected]. Please also ‘Like’ the ‘ZimJustice’ page on Facebook.

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