Zimbabwe: un coup d’état (attendu depuis longtemps) déjoué/ Zimbabwe: a (long expected) coup d’état thwarted

Nous avons parlé, dans ce blog, de la possibilité de voir un coup d’état renversant Robert Mugabe, au Zimbabwe. Un des acteurs principaux pouvant être Solomon Mujuru. AllAfrica.com, un site de nouvelles africaines bien connu, vient nous confirmer qu’une telle tentative a été déjouée par le camp Mugabe.

We already posted in this blog, the possibility of seeing an attempt of coup d’état against President Mugabe in Zimbabwe. We mentioned Solomon Mujuru as one of the potential protagonists. AllAfrica.com, a well known African news site, just released the news saying a coup d’état was thwarted by the Mugabe camp.

By Tichaona Sibanda.

Unconfirmed reports say influential retired Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander, General Solomon Mujuru has been placed under house arrest following reports of a foiled coup plot against Robert Mugabe.

Accurate information about the country’s military activities is notoriously difficult to find and a highly reliable army source told Newsreel it was too early to put the ‘pieces together’. He confirmed military intelligence officers were following up on the names of some ‘big guns’ believed to be involved in the plot.

‘The problem with Mujuru is that even under house arrest no soldier can stop him from venturing out. The best they could do is put him under surveillance and monitor his phone calls which they might have been doing all along,’ said our source.

Another serving officer told us information circulating widely in the army was that Mujuru was placed under house arrest a few days after Major General Engelbert Rugeje and Air Vice Marshall Elson Moyo were picked up after being fingered as the coup leaders. Mujuru still wields vast influence over many military officers who came through Zanu (PF)’s armed wing, ZANLA.

Retired army Colonel Bernard Matongo said the implications of the alleged coup plot have left Mugabe in limbo because he has no-one else to trust. Mugabe has always banked on the support of his loyal defence forces to sustain his rule. His party has split into two, with both factions fighting to get rid of him.

‘If reports of the coup plot are true then Mugabe has been left standing alone. The only people he can trust now are his bodyguards, many of whom are his close relatives, otherwise his position as head of state is becoming less secure by the day,’ Matongo said.

Reports of the coup plot were suppressed in the country until Thursday when the weekly Financial Gazette carried the story. Some details had first emerged last week when The Zimbabwean and The Zimbabwe Times both published reports of the coup.

Sources in the army told us this is the first time since independence that investigations over a coup plot have been carried out in the country. Usually a barrage of denials from the army meets any mention of a coup against Mugabe.

But the army has not uttered a word or issued a denial this time, suggesting reports might be true. Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi last week took the unusual step of confirming to The Zimbabwean newspaper that several soldiers had been arrested, but for ‘misconduct.’

First reports of the alleged plot filtered through when a Major Sigauke was reportedly instructed by General Rugeje to put his B squadron of the armoured regiment on standby. Sigauke once served under Rugeje at Inkomo barracks but became suspicious of the order and informed the chief of the defence intelligence, Brigadier Mike Sango. Sango in turn passed on the information to General Constantine Chiwenga, who immediately briefed Mugabe of the plot.

Newsreel is also reliably informed that the army’s Presidential Guard, headed by Brigadier Armstrong Gunda and the Special Air Services under the command of Colonel Panga Kufa, were put on high alert following reports of an impending coup. It is not known what role top co-accused Air Vice Marshall Moyo might have played in the alleged plot, but it’s believed almost all pilots in the Airforce of Zimbabwe are loyal to him as the only high ranking officer able to fly an aircraft. After independence Moyo was a flying instructor at Thornhill Airbase in Gweru where he trained the majority of pilots who are senior officers now.

Other senior commanders like Air Marshal Perence Shiri and his deputies Air Vice Marshals Henry Muchena and Abu Basutu don’t have flying wings.

Meanwhile the UK Daily Telegraph also carried reports of the ‘coup’ Thursday and said that seven serving and former officers of the army have been charged with plotting against Mugabe.

The paper said the men were arrested in stages, beginning on May 29, and appeared twice in closed hearings at Harare magistrates’ court earlier this month. A police record of the arrests said that the officers were accused of ‘treason’ over a plot in which they aimed to overthrow Mugabe and install Emmerson Mnangagwa, the rural housing minister, in his place.

There are conflicting and different reports about the coup, suggesting that this is all part of the bitter infighting in Zanu (PF) as both factional leaders have been mentioned as being involved. It is known Mujuru and Mnangagwa don’t see eye to eye and that both men are reportedly plotting behind Mugabe’s back to oust him from power. It also seems one camp is now blaming the other for this plot.

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Coup d’État possible au Zimbabwe?/ Possible “Coup d’État” in Zimbabwe

Mugabe, après avoir tenté d’éliminer l’opposition, s’en prend maintenant aux proches de son parti: la ZANU-PF. Le “camp des Mujurus” tenterait de l’éliminer. En effet, la vice-présidente du Zimbabwe, Joyce Mujuru, et son mari, Solomon, sont très populaires au sein de l’armée du Zimbabwe (voir article précédent). Tous deux sont des héros de la guerre de libération du pays et sont en opposition à Mugabe. Ce sont eux qui ont bloqué la tentative du président de repousser les élections de 2008 à 2010. Mugabe s’est alors tourné vers son chef de la sécurité nationale, Emmerson Mnangagwa. Il le destinerait à sa propre succession.

Cela explique pourquoi, une opposition existe entre les Mnangagwas et les Mujurus. Les premiers ayant la sympathie des services secrets et l’autre de l’armée. Cela explique les rumeurs voulant que Solomon Mujuru se constitue une armée privée dans son fief de Chikombe afin de renverser Mugabe si le besoin s’en ferait sentir. D’ailleurs, Mugabe a été furieux d’apprendre que des entretiens se sont tenus entre le clan Mujuru et des membres du personnel des ambassades britannique, française et américaine. Sont-ils aller chercher un blanc-seing?

Mugabe, after trying to eliminate his opposition, is going after dissidents within his own party: the ZANU-PF. It seems the “Mujuru camp” is trying to eliminate him. The Vice-president, Joyce Mujuru, and her husband, Solomon, are really popular within the national army (see previous post). Both are heroes from the liberation war and are in confrontation with Mugabe. They were the ones who stopped Mugabe from postponing the election date from 2008 to 2010. Mugabe turned to Emmerson Mnangagwa, his chief of national security, and prepares him for his own succession.

This explains why, an opposition exists between the Mujurus and the Mnangagwas. The firsts are favorite in the army, the others within the security services. It also explains the rumors saying that Solomon Mujuru is building a private army in his home area of Chikombe in order to topple Mugabe if he feels a need to it.

For Zimdaily:

Mugabe’s sentiments clearly show that he now dislikes the Mujurus to the marrow and can vow to soldier on without their support even in these trying times of his political career as the ZANU PF boat is sinking into abyss.

[…] because of irreconcilable differences that have gripped the faction ridden ZANU PF party along tribal lines, Mujuru has planned to build a private army from his province that is currently running the entire ideological state security apparatus holding Mugabe’s life on a thread.

As a matter of fact, Mugabe was furious to learn that meetings were held between the Mujurus and foreign ambassies (The Timesonline):

Solomon Mujuru, whose wife Joice is vice-president, has met the British, French and US ambassadors, provoking fury from Mugabe, who now believes that leading players in his own Zanu-PF party are scheming to overthrow him.

In an unprecedented attack on senior party figures, Mugabe claimed last Friday that there was “an insidious dimension where ambitious leaders have been cutting deals with the British and Americans”.

He said: “The whole succession debate has given imperialism hope for reentry. Since when have the British, the Americans, been friends of Zanu-PF?”

[…] the armed forces still seem loyal to the retired General Mujuru, whose contacts with foreign diplomats signify his ambition.

Sources close to the Foreign Office in London confirmed that Britain would be willing to work with any postMugabe leader to help restore both the economy and democracy in Zimbabwe.

Did the Mujurus get their “OK to proceed” signal from the foreign ambassies?

Joyeux anniversaire Président Mugabe/ Happy Birthday President Mugabe

(Links are different between english and french texts. Les liens sont différents entre les textes anglais et français).

Le président du Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, vient de célébrer ses 83 ans le 21 Février dernier. Il a dépensé 1.2 millions de dollars US pour fêter cet événement dans un stade où 10000 personnes ont été invitées. Évidemment, nourriture et cadeaux dispendieux étaient à l’honneur. Mais, il existe une ombre au tableau: l’absence de la vice-présidente Joyce Mujuru. Il faut savoir que sa nomination à ce poste en 2004 a été imposé à Mugabe par son parti. Elle est la femme de Solomon Mujuru (lien en anglais), ancien compagnon d’armes de Mugabe dans la lutte pour l’indépendance du Zimbabwe. Les Mujuru font partie de la “vieille garde” qui espère bien prendre le pouvoir lorsque Mugabe le quittera probablement en 2008 (le blog Africadaily nous décrit Mme Mujuru). Quant à la population, sa situation est toujours aussi catastrophique: 80% de sans-emplois, plus de 1000% d’inflation et l’espérance de vie la plus basse du monde avec 34 ans (rappelons que Mugabe a, lui, 83 ans!).

Happy Birthday Mugabe

The Zimbabwe president, Robert Mugabe, just celebrated his 83th birthday on February 21st. He spent £600000 to commemorate this event in a stadium where 10000 persons were invited. Obviously, food and expensive gifts where in the menu. But, the only drawback was the absence of his vice-president: Joyce Mujuru. We have to understand that Mugabe was pressured by his party to accept her nomination to that position in 2004. She’s the wife of Solomon Mujuru, an old comrade in arms of Mugabe, during the war for the indepedence of Zimbabwe. The Mujuru’s belong to the “Old Guard” who hopes to seize power after Mugabe leaves the political scene, probably in 2008. And regarding the population, the situation is still catastrophic: 80% of unemployed, more than 1000% of inflation and the lowest life expectancy in the world with 34 years (and Mugabe is 83!).