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Will anything really change in Zimbabwe?

The soldiers were angry that “counter-revolutionary infiltrators” were now effectively influencing the party. “What is obtaining within the revolutionary party,” the military said, “is a direct result of the machinations of counter revolutionaries who have infiltrated the party and whose agenda is to destroy it from within … We must remind those behind the current shenanigans that when it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in.”

The military’s main concern was that ZANU-PF had departed from its traditional values and its established way of resolving internal differences.

“Party orders were strictly adhered to and whatever differences existed, they were resolved amicably and in the party’s closet. Unfortunately since the turn of 2015, ZANU-PF’s traditional protocol and procedures have changed with a lot of gossiping, backbiting, and public chastisement being the order of the day. Indeed the party is undoing its legacy built over the years.”

For the military to move tanks from 116 km away into the centre of the capital Harare within 24 hours of their 13 November statement, shows how seriously they took the non-publication of their statement by the national media houses. It meant the “counter revolutionaries” were saying the military did not matter, which carried the dangerous threat of arrest and sacking of the military top brass for issuing the statement.

Some analysts have said that the precision and smoothness of the military intervention means that it had long been planned. In fact way back in August 2017, the former First Lady, Grace Mugabe had said that Mnangagwa allies were thinking of a coup to seize power for him, that a coup would not be accepted by SADC and the outside world in this day and age, and she had called for the arrest and trial of those people for treason.

But nobody took Grace Mugabe seriously because she had become too much for anybody’s liking, on account of what many considered as “the destructive role” she had been playing in the party since she entered politics in December 2014 as the head of ZANU-PF’s Women’s League.

By virtue of being the wife of the President, Grace Mugabe’s G40 faction in the party had been ascendant, and its members (referred to as “counter revolutionaries” by the military) were the ones influencing the course of both the party and the government.

G40 is the short form for Generation 40, whose name came from the headline of a newspaper article written by the former Minister for Higher and Tertiary Education, Prof Jonathan Moyo, who ruminated in the article on how the younger generation would move the country forward. G40 therefore became the home of young Turks in ZANU-PF who saw their future tied in with Grace Mugabe.

They influenced the sacking of Vice-President Mnangagwa on 6 November. At the time, General Chiwenga, the ZDF commander and a known Mnangagwa ally, was on an official trip to China. When he returned a week later, reports said the “counter revolutionaries” had arranged for his arrest at the Harare International Airport (now renamed Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport), but the military had got wind of it and sent troops to the airport to thwart the arrest. It is said that Chiwenga drove straight from the airport to confront Mugabe, who denied ordering any such arrest.

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