Army generals who ousted Robert Mugabe feared ‘bloody’ counter-op

February 5, 2018
| Report Focus News
Zimbabwe Army General Constantino Chiwenga

Harare – Leaked minutes from negotiations during last year’s military takeover that led to the ousting of Robert Mugabe suggest the commanders who staged it feared a “bloody” counter-operation.

The privately-owned Standard says the minutes are taken from meetings between the army commanders – who were under now vice president Constantino Chiwenga – and the team that negotiated Mugabe’s resignation last November.

The paper reports that the commanders believed Grace Mugabe’s G40 faction of the ruling Zanu-PF party had “captured the intelligence and police commanders”. The takeover paved the way for former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa to take over: he’s now been in power for just over two months.

Intercepted text message

 The military commanders are said to have intercepted a text message from the then justice minister, Happyton Bonyongwe, which tried to rope in Air Force Commander Perrance Shiri, who was out of the country on business.

The message allegedly urged Shiri to “fly back and join efforts towards a counter operation whose backbone would be the police force commanded by Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri.”

As it happened, the police posed no resistance to the army takeover on November 15 that led to Mugabe’s resignation days later. Chihuri has since retired from the police force. Shiri was promoted into Mnangagwa’s new government as agriculture minister.

“Disappeared into thin air”

It’s not clear where Bonyongwe is: the Standard says he has “since disappeared into thin air”.

Mugabe and his wife are back in Zimbabwe where the ageing president has been given a handsome retirement package. There are claims that he’s far from happy and that G40 loyalists may be plotting to stage a political comeback by joining with Joice Mujuru, another former vice president.

The authenticity of the leaked minutes has not been verified.