The Foreign Service Journal - March 2018

54 MARCH 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL ing involvement in politics. Her public comments in October and early November 2017 about the possibility of succeeding her husband were highlighted. Increasing tension between Grace and Senior Vice President Mnangagwa also surfaced. She, and finally Mugabe himself, accused Mnangagwa of corrup- tion, plotting against Mugabe and other actions detrimental to the party. In October, he fell ill while attending a function outside Harare and had to be flown to South Africa for treatment, where it was determined that he’d suffered some kind of food poisoning. He maintained that he’d been poisoned by ice cream produced at one of Grace’s many dairy farms, a charge that both she and her husband vehemently denied. But the feud escalated, culminating on Nov. 13, 2017, whenMugabe firedMnangagwa fromhis party and government positions, and the latter fled the country, claiming that he and his family were in danger. Mugabe’s move was seen by many as part of a new plan for suc- cession: his wife would replace Mnangagwa as one of the country’s two vice presidents at the December 2017 party conference, which would then position her to replace him as party and country leader. The Clash of Generations But on Nov. 13, shortly after Mnangagwa’s firing, Gen. Chi- wenga made a public announcement, warning that the military would not stand by while senior party figures and liberation fight- ers were pushed aside. There has long been a rift in ZANU-PF between the older generation who fought during the liberation war, and those party members who were too young to fight. Many of the latter, now in their 40s and 50s, had formed a group around Grace Mugabe that came to be known as the G-40. Among themwere Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and National Housing Saviour Kasukuwere andMinister of Information JonathanMoyo. It is this group that was thought to be behind the expulsion of Mnangagwa and a few other older party members. The G-40 reacted immedi- ately to Chiwenga’s threat, accusing himof treasonous conduct. Two days later, the military made its move. The headquarters of the Zimbabwe Broadcast Corporation, the state-controlled televi- sion system, were occupied; and tanks and troops were stationed at key points in Harare. Mugabe and his wife were placed under effective house arrest, and troops were sent out to round up other members of G-40, such as Kasukuwere andMoyo. Though some of the military’s motivationmay be attributed to the desire of senior officers and party officials to protect their access to the public trough, to fund the lavish lifestyle that many of them lead, one cannot underestimate the long-standing schism between those who participated in the liberation struggle and those who didn’t. This genera- tional clash has played a key role in Zimbabwe’s politics, with the older generation clinging tenaciously to power and the younger chafing at being made to wait its turn. While Mugabe’s firing of Joice Mujuru had raised eyebrows, giving Mnangagwa and a few other senior party members the ax was seen as a deliber- ate effort to sideline liberation figures. The apparent effort to push Grace forward as a successor added insult to injury as far as senior military and political leaders were concerned. November’s events show that internal ZANU-PF fissures have as much potential to produce violence as does the presence of opposition political parties. Should these differences manifest themselves within the ranks of the military, there is potential for even greater violence. The Coup That Wasn’t If not for the seriousness of the situation, the Nov. 15 “coup d’état” in Zimbabwe might have been treated as some kind of rehearsal for a colossal April Fool’s joke. It certainly hadmany of the characteristics of the film “The MouseThat Roared,” a satire about a small country that “invaded” the United States in order to be defeated and, thus, eligible for American assistance. Mugabe’s move was seen by many as part of a new plan for succession: his wife would replace Mnangagwa as one of the country’s two vice presidents. U.S. Ambassador Charles Ray speaks to the local press at The Media Center in Harare, Jan. 26, 2012. COURTESYOFCHARLESRAY