By Wisdom Mumera
Pressure is set to increase on the continent’s governance bodies in the aftermath of indications by Presidential spokesperson George Charamba that former President Robert Mugabe may have resigned under military duress.
Both the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have tacitly accepted President Emmerson Mnangagwa assumption of power as legitimate whilst denying the occurrence of a de facto coup.
The revelations, related through a media interview dramatically change the dynamics of Mugabe’s supposed resignation and provide legitimacy to calls by anti-Mnangagwa personnel that Zimbabwe witnessed a coup in November 2017 rendering the current government illegitimate.
Commenting on his social media platform (Twitter) former Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo said George Charamba’s statement is explicit revelations of the illegal power grab that occurred.
“Here’s evidence that, contrary to what a panicky Mnangagwa is telling SADC, President Mugabe didn’t freely and voluntarily resign. The Junta created a Gaddafi scenario and wrote resignation letter!’
“ZimCoupGovt confirms President Mugabe RESIGNED at ‘GUNPOINT’ as Army set a GADDAFI TRAP “with a CHILLING msg”! @African_Union @UN
pazimbabwe.com/main-news-4437…,” he added quoting a recent publication.
“For the record, Charamba didn’t draft the resignation letter as Presidential Spokesperson but as Secretary of the ‘Command Element’. He was not a negotiator or mediator as he claims. Rather he was a MESSENGER of the ‘COMMAND ELEMENT’ sent with a “CHILLING MESSAGE” to President Mugabe!
In the interview Charamba stated that the former President had been pressured with chilling messages.
“The commanders sent us with a very chilling message, they said ‘please go and get the President to appreciate the gravity of the situation out there.’ There was the possibility of a Libyan scenario where the President would have been dragged out of the Blue Roof and lynched. It was going to be possible because the soldiers said ‘we cannot turn our guns on civilians who are marching against the President and spill blood.’ I started visualizing an image of Muammar Gaddafi, I literally went argh argh!”
As further indictment of the continental bodies Philip Roessler, Associate Professor of Government at the College of William and Mary has also written against their failure to hold the Mnangagwa government to account.
“The African Union, in alignment with SADC, got it wrong and missed a valuable opportunity to strengthen and expand its anti-coup regime to include both de jure and de facto coups.
“In narrowly focusing on the removal of the sitting head of state as the defining feature of a coup rather than the unconstitutional use of force to coerce elected leaders to relinquish power, it sets a dangerous precedent that threatens to undermine the strong gains the region has made to move beyond politics by the gun.
“A sounder approach would have been for the AU’s Peace and Security Council to condemn the de facto coup – as it would a de jure coup – and threaten to suspend Zimbabwe from the African Union until the military released Mugabe from house arrest, handed over power to a transitional post-Mugabe government, and returned to the barracks.”
Professor Roessler added that such a policy response would have delivered a similar outcome as what transpired – ridding Zimbabwe and the AU of the Mugabe problem – while strengthening, rather than weakening, the region’s anti-coup norm.
Instead he said the AU endorsed a factional coup by the Zimbabwe military and its former vice president, Mnangagwa, which now sees the coup perpetrators in key positions in the post-Mugabe government in direct contravention of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.
Ronak Gopaldas, a consultant from the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), also gave a tentative opinion on Zimbabwe’s future.
“Zimbabwe is at a crossroads. Although regime change may yet yield positive results, the exact manner in which this is achieved is important and will set the tone for what comes next. At this stage, it seems unlikely that the country will spiral into a cycle of anarchy, but it is equally unlikely that a fairy-tale transition will occur. Chances are rather that the transition will end up being something in between,” he said.