The military coup that led to Zimbabwe’s governing Zanu-PF party dismissing President Robert Mugabe today as its leader was supposed to be executed in December ahead of the party’s special congress, according to a report.
City Press reports that the axing of Emmerson Mnangagwa – Mugabe’s vice-president – two weeks ago reportedly brought forward the army’s plan, which involved political players and diplomats in order to prevent the dominance at the congress of the G40 faction of Zanu-PF said to be led by Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe.
According to the report, several governments in the region and abroad had been made aware of the plan and had no objection. However, they are said to have insisted that there be no bloodshed and that Mugabe’s overthrow should not be characterised as a coup.
China reportedly gave its “tacit approval” to the military’s coup, and the country’s officials were apparently thrilled Mnangagwa would take over power from Mugabe. While United States was informed, the country played no role in the plan.
General Constantino Chiwenga, who leads the Zimbabwe Defence Force (ZDF), is reported to have travelled to China and other countries in southern Africa last week to “consolidate the assurances”.
Chiwenga apparently told Mugabe that he was going for medical follow-ups. There were reportedly plans to arrest Chiwenga upon his return from his visits, but military intelligence is said to have learnt about the plan and prevented it by waiting for him at the airport.
“Sources told City Press that a senior Zimbabwean diplomat ‘sensitised’ regional governments ‘to the idea and necessity of the coup’ and ‘received assurances that there would be no military intervention’.
“The coup, sources told City Press yesterday, was given the tacit approval of China, Zimbabwe’s largest development partner. China was asked to provide the assurance that it would not stop its ‘economic and technical assistance’ to Zimbabwe if Mugabe was deposed. It did so, on condition that its strategic interests in the country were not compromised,” the report stated.