Coup warning after VP axed
Publish date: 13 November 2017
Issue Number: 751
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Legalbrief reports that the dramatic fallout between President Robert Mugabe and his former deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa has sent shockwaves through Zimbabwe, Mozambique – where he briefly sought refuge – and now South Africa where he is planning his next move. And in the latest twist, Harare police say they are gathering evidence to charge him for a variety of crimes from murder to treason. Mnangagwa was removed from his post last week with Information Minister Simon Khaya Moyo saying he displayed traits of disloyalty, disrespect and deceitfulness. The Mail & Guardian reports that the move makes it more likely that First Lady Grace Mugabe will replace her husband. Mnangagwa, a 75-year-old former intelligence chief, has been the subject of unrelenting criticism from supporters of Grace Mugabe. A TimesLIVE report notes that Mnangagwa led a faction within the party called Team Lacoste which was fighting against another called Generation 40‚ fronted by the First Lady. However‚ as the succession fight continued‚ it became clear that Mugabe was on his wife's side and the plan was to drop Mnangagwa in December at the party's extraordinary congress.
The President publicly rebuked Mnangagwa at a rally in Bulawayo late last month, reportedly saying: 'Did I make a mistake by appointing him as my Vice President? If I did‚ then I can fire him even tomorrow. He should go start his own party.' Mugabe subsequently told Mnangagwa to attend a meeting at his palatial Borrowdale home a week ago, but he refused. A report on the IoL site note that police, who usually support the Grace Mugabe G40 faction within Zanu-PF, told local journalists on Friday that they have begun to investigate links between Mnangagwa and four murders and one attempted murder. In addition, he has allegedly been linked to political violence in connection with illegal gold panning in and around Kwekwe, in central Zimbabwe. Several lawyers in Harare say that there are lines in Mnangagwa’s five-page statement, issued before he fled, which might form the basis of charges of treason. The Zimbabwe Independent reports that the Criminal Investigations Department has pulled together a special unit to investigate crimes that were allegedly committed by Mnangagwa during his tenure in government. The charges against Mnangagwa included the obstruction of justice, corruption, attempted murder and murder. The politician has allegedly been linked to a case where a local company was using bank transfers to mop up foreign currency in contravention of the Exchange Control Act. The matter was partly investigated by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission but was later dropped. ‘The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe financial intelligence unit has been instructed to keep a close eye on his bank accounts and his business interests because there are fears that he could be funding terror and violence within Zanu PF structures,’ a senior government official is quoted as saying. ‘His close allies, both in the business sector and outside the country, are under monitoring and surveillance – be it mobile money or their business operations – from the amounts they are banking to sales.’
Zimbabwe's former Home Affairs Minister Dumiso Dabengwa believes a military coup ‘cannot be ruled out’ following Mnangagwa's sacking. A report on the VOA Zimbabwe site notes that Dabengwa, who is the leader of the opposition Zapu party, said it was likely that most Zimbabweans would back a coup as 'they are tired of President Robert Mugabe's rule’.
Meanwhile, a Zimbabwe court on Friday released on bail four people facing charges of undermining Mugabe’s authority after his wife was jeered at a rally. A report on the News24 site notes that three men and a woman were arrested after attending a ruling Zanu-PF party rally in Bulawayo where Grace Mugabe was heckled while addressing the crowd 10 days ago. ‘There is no compelling reason for denying the accused their rights,’ said magistrate Franklin Mkhwananzi, who ordered them back to court on 24 November. They were released on $50 bail each and barred from attending an upcoming presidential rally in Harare.