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Published 17th November 2017

Vol 58 No 23


Zimbabwe

The crocodile snaps back

Mnangagwa and Mugabe attend a youth interface rally in Gweru in September this year.  Stringer/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images
Mnangagwa and Mugabe attend a youth interface rally in Gweru in September this year. Stringer/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Along with the early morning mist, a mood of quiet elation enveloped Harare as news spread that President Mugabe was under house arrest

During the night of 14-15 November Zimbabwe Defence Forces soldiers were posted to strategic points in the capital, such as the police headquarters, the Central Intelligence Organisation, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and The Herald newspaper. The lead authors of the military action – sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and General Constantino Chiwenga – had prepared the ground for the operation and troops encountered little resistance at the barracks of the Presidential Guard and its commander Brigadier-General Anselem Sanyatwe. Neutralising them was the first part of the military action, we understand.

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BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

The end of President Robert Mugabe's reign in Zimbabwe – whatever else it presages – sends a clear message to other power families in the region. As Southern Africans were musing over the fin de règne in Zimbabwe, the new President in Angola, João Lourenço sacked

The end of President Robert Mugabe's reign in Zimbabwe – whatever else it presages – sends a clear message to other power families in the region. As Southern Africans were musing over the fin de règne in Zimbabwe, the new President in Angola, João Lourenço sacked Isabel dos Santos from her position as head of the state oil company, Sonangol. Ms Dos Santos, described as one of Africa's richest women with a personal fortune of over US$2 billion, is the daughter of former President of Angola, José Eduardo dos Santos. Even before her father left office, some in Angola's military were calling for an investigation into Isabel's business affairs. That could still come, as could a probe into her brother Zenu's management of the country's sovereign wealth fund.

After Zimbabwean military officers put Mugabe and his wife Grace under house arrest, South Africa's President Jacob Zuma thoughtfully telephoned to inquire about their welfare. After being reassured, Zuma went on national television to update South Africans on the change of the guard in their northern neighbour. The ousting of a long-standing president and his wife, mired in political and corporate corruption, may have given Zuma some twinges of anxiety. Just as Mugabe was trying to promote Grace, Zuma has been energetically backing his ex-wife as his successor to lead the African National Congress. This won't help Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's campaign.

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