Mugabe accuses military of plotting a coup, tells them 'stop interfing in politics'

Harare - President Robert Mugabe has ticked off Zimbabwe’s military for getting involved in politics, though they’ve played a key role in maintaining his own hold on power and will likely influence who takes over from him, analysts say.  

On Thursday, Mugabe said military involvement in the internal politics of the ruling Zanu-PF party was tantamount to "a coup".

“The military has no right you know, to be interfering with the political processes,” Mugabe told a meeting of his party’s Women’s League.

'Politics lead the gun'

He said the army should only play a supporting role based on "the principle that politics shall always lead the gun and not the gun politics.”

Senior officials in the army, police and war veterans are thought to back a faction led by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former defence minister said to have his eye on the presidency. But Mnangagwa’s faction is opposed by one linked to First Lady Grace Mugabe.

'Whip the army'

Analyst and historian Takavafira Zhou said Mugabe’s criticism of the military top brass came from "a paradigm shift", with the president trying to prepare the party's militaristic support base for someone with "no liberation history", possibly his wife.

"Mugabe is trying to whip the army so that they would accept whatever he may do in the future," Zhou told News24.

He said it wouldn’t work as the army top brass were only “amenable to people who have ruled them in the past” and would favour someone who could protect their personal business interests. 

'Decisive power bloc'

On Thursday Mugabe told the women’s league that the party could soon restore its policy of having a female vice president. Grace Mugabe, as head of the women’s league, would be the obvious candidate.

Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya said Mugabe's anger with the army would not dilute their role in succession politics.

“The decisive power bloc in the succession issue in Zanu is the military and this is why Mugabe attacked them," Ruhanya told News24.

"It is quite telling that Mugabe is talking about military involvement as a coup. It is because I think he is failing to control the generals in terms of their determination to make sure they put a pick (for successor) that they want not a pick that Mugabe’s wife and his family want."
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