The Zimbabwean “army” lacks institutionalisation, says the writer. Picture: Supplied
The Zimbabwean “army” lacks institutionalisation, says the writer. Picture: Supplied

Everything changes in Zim yet it remains the same

By Opinion Time of article published Aug 31, 2020

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Yonela Mlambo

Many analysts and experts on Zimbabwean politics were invited to give their analysis of the “2017 coup”.

Yesterday foes were suddenly praised as heroes and heroes as foes.

Nevertheless, the more things change in Zimbabwe the more they remain the same.

Zimbabwe’s political system is still as brutal as it was during the Mugabe era. The analysts and the experts gave us the conventional analysis that when the army take over the government it is a coup.

However, what happened in Zimbabwe in 2017 was not a coup; rather a certain faction in Zanu-PF, with control of the “army”, ousted the Mugabe faction.

The Zimbabwean “army” lacks institutionalisation. The army has politicians who masquerade themselves as soldiers and generals at the helm of the “army” thus it was able to unequivocally state it shall never salute a president who never went into exile to fight for the Zimbabwean independence.

Variances in coup analysis were found to be predicting the worse to be expected as under military rule civil liberties are limited. Others invoked a sense of hope and better tomorrow.

The latter analysis was informed by the notion that when the army eventually hands over government to politicians, they shall establish a new political system that will respect human rights and other civil liberties.

Nonetheless, nothing changed post the so-called 2017 Zimbabwean coup; the situation seems to be further deteriorating. Hope and enthusiasm for a new era in Zimbabwe is not a new phenomenon. Post-independence Zimbabweans were sanguine in the erstwhile Mugabe-led government.

Professor Xolela Mangcu, however, informed us that expectation of a better life was short-lived and citing Wole Soyinka, Mugabe soon became a monster presiding over oppressive and repressive government.

Moreover, the 2008 Global Political Agreement was poised to bring a change in Zimbabwe politics.

Nevertheless, Zimbabweans were left shattered and in despair as Mugabe continued to unleash violence and didn’t honour the Global Political Agreement.

Again, in 2017, the world witnessed the “army” taking over the government and Zimbabweans and many peoples across the world expressed their expectation of a new dawn in Zimbabwean politics in the post-Mugabe era. Nevertheless, the current unrest in Zimbabwe is again a backlash to the peoples of Zimbabwe.

Signs, however, were there that in the post-Mugabe era nothing was going to change. For example, when the then interim president, Mnangagwa, was determined that “elections” were going to take place on the earmarked date it was crystal clear that nothing was going to change in Zimbabwean politics.

And the post-election results dispute and the current political instability demonstrate the previous sentence’s assertion.

If Mnangagwa was the reformist he wanted the world to believe, elections were going to be postponed and a coalition government of at least three years of all political parties represented in parliament was going to be formed.

This coalition government, among other things, was going to negotiate the establishment of an independent electoral commission, an independent judiciary through appointment of commissioners and judges based on meritocracy, and institutionalise the army and gradually convince the “army generals” to retire.

* Mlambo is studying for a Bachelor of Social Science Honours degree as a sociology major at UCT.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.

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