Morgan Tsvangirai in discussions with military

November 16, 2017
| Report Focus News
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai reacts after arriving at a rally in Harare, Zimbabwe, August 5, 2017. REUTERS/Philimon Bulwayo

Harare – Movement for Democratic Change leader, Morgan Tsvangirai has returned home to Harare late Wednesday and will immediately consult with his party to seek whether co-operation with the army, which is now in control of the state, is possible.

Douglas Mwonzora, secretary-general of the MDC, told Newsday newspaper on Wednesday that Tsvangirai had returned home. He had medical treatment for colon cancer in South Africa.

Hinting that the MDC would not oppose the army’s actions in taking control from President Robert Mugabe, Mwonzora said it was “still to early to tell” what would emerge from the army’s seizure of power just before midnight on Tuesday.

He said it was clear that the military’s move indicated this was “the end of the Mugabe era..he has outlived his welcome, and it is time for somebody else.”

Mwonzora did not rule out MDC co-operation with the military which is still guarding most of the main government buildings, as well as roadblocks on main roads into the city and a small contingent at the airport.

Mwonzora also said first lady Grace Mugabe had “abused her privilege.”

Many are discussing and wondering whether Zimbabwe might emerge from the period of military control with an “inclusive” government to recover the economy, and that this would include members from all political parties. And that this would mean that next year’s elections would be postponed.

It was so quiet in Harare hours after the military seized power and arrested several Zanu-PF cabinet ministers – no one seems to know for sure how many were arrested. They will have to be charged or released by Friday, according to the present constitution.

Many people went to work as normal on Wednesday but in small parts of the centre of Harare, around government buildings, streets were deserted.

On the surface, at least, it is hard to see much evidence that a coup d’etat has happened. And the armed forces who are now in control, do not want those words, coup d’etat, used.

The military had one item on a news less broadcast on the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s main bulletin on Wednesday: President Robert Mugabe and his family are all fine.

No mention of whether Grace Mugabe is in Harare or was quietly shipped out.

There was then some sports news and the weather. Earlier in the day there was music, and some Christian poetry readings.

In the east, the main street of Mutare was closed off for roadworks on Wednesday. “We don’t know if the army is there. I saw one small truck with a few army guys but nothing else,” said a resident who asked not to be named. Like many Zimbabweans, he remains nervous of speaking to reporters and being identified.

At various wildlife resorts in west and southern Zimbabwe life continued as normal. “All is as usual here, as we are in the bush,”  one manager of a popular wildlife resort, said. “We only know what has happened because we heard it on the (foreign) news.”

All local and international flights in and out of Harare and second city Bulawayo continued as normal.

One former detainee who was held at Harare Central Police station a few years ago when when hundreds of MDC supporters were arrested,  said: “I like to think of some of the top Zanu PF people in those filthy cells.”

Among those arrested at present is police commissioner Augustine Chihuri, a supporter of the Grace Mugabe faction within the divided ruling Zanu-PF party, known as G40.

A small builder who struggles to find odd jobs around Harare’s western suburbs said he only found out early Wednesday that Mugabe was no longer in power.

“We switched on the TV. I saw the general, (Constantino Chiwenga, commander of the armed forces) making his speech, and others from the army speaking from their lap tops, and they explained what had happened. I was shocked, but now I am optimistic. We could not go on like this as we are suffering.”

At the last elections this man with three children, said: “I campaigned for Zanu-PF at the last elections, (2013.) We were disappointed as our candidate has never been near us since then.”

In Chitungwiza, a high density town, adjacent to southern Harare, many people were jubilant. This town has almost no public sewage, uncertain water and extraordinary degradation over the last 20 years.

Hilary Gava, 56, a former policeman, now a vendor selling hardware on a street, said: “This was long overdue, the army should have taken Mugabe, Grace, (Saviour) Kasukuwere (local government minister)  Jonathan Moyo (tertiary education minister) to a firing squad for all the crimes and suffering they have caused to the people of Zimbabwe.” He paused and looked around, and then said, “Will we ever recover?”

Barbara Shamu, 48, a secretary in the women’s affairs ministry, did not go to work on Wednesday. “This is the happiest day of my life. I never imagined that one day I would wake up and hear sweet news like this. I am happy Grace is gone, Mugabe is gone.”

She said she also hoped the “new” currency, introduced a year ago, and known as Bond Notes, would also “be gone.” Bond notes, a locally printed currency, which can only be used in Zimbabwe, and which are supposed to have the same value as US dollars, are hard to find. So are US dollars, Zimbabwe’s preferred currency.

But there are some people who have no idea that their world has changed. That the Zanu-PF they knew, led by Mugabe who addressed huge rallies last weekend, has ended.

“I don’t know anything that happened in Harare….I went to work and went home,” said a security guard who showed up for night duty on Wednesday.

Mugabe is living, with guards outside his 10 000 sq m mansion, as usual, in Zimbabwe’s poshest suburb, Borrowdale.

Many people in Harare say it was Grace who they detested. Few spoke out about Robert Mugabe, 93, beyond that he was “too old.”

Independent Foreign Service