Short Report

It's not a coup‚ Zimbabwe's military is just tired of getting paid in Lego

15 November 2017 - 13:47
Zimbabwean soldiers stand at an intersection as they regulate traffic in Harare on November 15, 2017.
Zimbabwean soldiers stand at an intersection as they regulate traffic in Harare on November 15, 2017.
Image: AFP PHOTO / Jekesai NJIKIZANA

The events unfolding in Zimbabwe are alarming. As we speak‚ South African medical aide schemes are meeting to discuss raising premiums ahead of the possible arrival of Grace “The Hammer” Mugabe‚ while Rolls Royce dealers are frantically trying to get extra stock in anticipation of vast amounts of money that need urgent laundering.

Of course‚ it’s not a coup. The man in the uniform‚ who had taken the TV station by force and who said he was now in charge of the country‚ was at pains to make that clear.

Rather‚ he explained‚ the Zimbabwe military was “pacifying a degenerating political‚ social and economic situation”. Which‚ translated from Coup into English means‚ “The army just got gatvol of being paid in IOUs‚ then promises of IOUs‚ then Lego pieces with ‘Z$500’ painted on them in Grace’s nail-polish‚ and finally lint and stray buttons from the Palace Sewing Room”.

Whichever way this goes there will be an urge in the media to paint the coup leaders – sorry‚ I mean pacifiers – as liberators who have done this to save democracy in Zimbabwe.

This is unwise. Pacifier-in-Chief‚ Major General SB Moyo‚ told the world that the plan was to “target criminals around [Mugabe] who are committing crimes”. This seems to be a factional rather than ideological fight: whoever comes out on top‚ the generals will remain content‚ as they have for the last many years‚ to parade past a Big Man running the country as his personal fiefdom.

Meanwhile‚ closer to home‚ people are starting to wonder if and when South Africa will intervene. They have presumably forgotten that South Africa has already intervened‚ back in 2002‚ when Thabo Mbeki declared stolen elections free and fair.

And I hope the Caped Enabler is getting the credit he deserves for contributing to the current crisis: if you know Mbeki‚ please buy him a cigar and congratulate him on becoming the grandfather of happy‚ healthy bouncing baby coup.

Still‚ the former president must be feeling a certain melancholy right now. As the man who invented Quiet Diplomacy and its accompanying rhetoric – an entirely new language of denial‚ blame-shifting‚ conspiracy and euphemism – he must be a little bit sad that people are using nasty words like “coup” and “military” and “arrest” to describe current events.

Oh for those golden days of the mid-2000s when you could blame it all on Western agents wanting regime change. Good‚ good times.


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