Zimbabwe is on the lips of many across the globe and the word COUP is being thrown around left, right, centre and all the way in between. I agree that a coup did take place in Zimbabwe but it was not instigated by the military. A coup was acted out by Grace Mugabe who unconstitutionally assumed a seat in the presidium and began to interfere in the running of government affairs leading to a rapid and glaring decapitation of what the State stands for. What the military did was to simply stop that coup in its tracks.
If it is a matter of semantics then it is important to stick to the fundamentals and facts in their entirety without isolating the acute event in focus. It appears most analysts and ilk agree on the definition of a coup as ‘the sudden takeover of power through unconstitutional means’. It becomes apparent that concluding that a coup has taken place in a said country can only be reached after taking into consideration what the Constitution of the land in question says about where power should lie, how it should be used and how it should be transferred. If one were to labour through all one hundred and fifty one (151) pages of The Constitution of The Republic of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) 2013 one would realise that there is not a single line that gives any semblance of State or Government power to the spouse of the Head of Government and State. In actual fact the word ‘First Lady’ does not even appear in the Constitution.
Since the year 2014, for the past three years, Grace Mugabe the spouse of the Head of Government and State had been acting in the capacity of a member of the Presidium without formal appointment or public declaration by the President as enshrined by the Constitution. It is indeed on public record that Grace Mugabe imposed herself into the helms of Government by justifying her utterances, actions and interference on the grounds of physical proximity to the Head of Government. To be specific, she went as far as claiming that she had power to intrude in State affairs because she cooked for the President. Is that a logical explanation? What that then means is that even the cook, gardener, bodyguard, sons, daughter and urinary catheter nurse at the beckoning of the President also had a stake in Government by mere constant proximity to the President!
It is also important to take cognisance of the fact that the President himself was over and over and over again warned by the Security branch of the State that the First Lady’s intrusion into State affairs posed a serious security risk to the stability of the nation. These warnings fell on deaf ears for three whole years. The President took this constitutional advice as an offence to his person and chose to seek retribution against the security service chiefs by firing them one by one. Logically the head of Intelligence had to be the first to go hence his re-assignment to the Justice Ministry. Next to go was the Chairman of the Joint Operations Command who also doubled as the State and Government Vice-President. The remaining members of the Joint Operations Command who had repeatedly deliberated on the contentious state security risk posed by the First Lady were also threatened with expulsion for the sole crime of voicing this obvious and justified concern. They were then left with only two choices; either to throw the Constitution out of the window and allow the coup by the First Lady to continue or to unite among themselves and save the Constitution in its entirety. They chose the latter and that is how we arrived at where we are.
The question we need to then ask ourselves is where exactly in the Constitution is a military intervention justified? At first reading it may be concluded that the Army Generals contravened Section 208 Subsections 2(a) and 2(b) which prohibit them from acting in a partisan manner and furthering the interests of any political party respectively but like I said before this argument is incomplete without taking the whole Constitution in context. For instance it should be acknowledged that they were also acting out of provocation from the ZANU-PF party youth who had announced themselves as a military arm of the nation which is contrary to Section 211 (2) which clearly states that “The Defence Forces are the only lawful military forces in Zimbabwe.” It is of utmost importance that a close reading of the very first sentence of Chapter 11 be made. Section 206 (1) clearly states that, “The national security objectives of Zimbabwe must reflect the resolve of Zimbabweans to live as equals in liberty, peace and harmony, free from fear, and in prosperity.” It is my humble belief that this is the key clause on whose grounds the military felt justified to act.
The “resolve of Zimbabweans” is a subjective term that can be reasonably quantified by a collation of sentiments bt Zimbabweans about any military action undertaken in protection of national security. What all this means is that the fundamental question is ‘How do Zimbabweans feel about the military intervention?’ I am sure a speak for the majority of Zimbabweans when I bravely conclude that what the military has done is congruent with and reinforces our own resolve to remove Robert Gabriel Mugabe as President of the Republic of Zimbabwe.