President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s purge of generals, who helped him seize power from former leader Robert Mugabe has not come as a surprise to those who have always insisted that the booting out of Mugabe was a coup.
When Mnangagwa took power with the help of then-army commander Constantino Chiwenga and his generals in November 2017, some analysts predicted then that at some point the new head of State would get rid of the generals who helped him seize power as part of his efforts to consolidate his grip on power.
Mnangagwa’s purging of military commanders aligned to his ailing deputy Chiwenga could be informed by the view of many scholars who argue that coups are repetitive.
One such scholar, Jonathan Powell, an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida, recently said: “Countries that have had a recent coup tend to be more vulnerable to another attempt.”
Mnangagwa is obviously wary of this eventuality. Recent claims that there were plans to seize power while he was on a foreign tour that took him to Russia, Belarus, Khazakstan and Azerbaijan must have emboldened him to rid the military of perceived threats to his power.
It is clear that Mnangagwa is determined to restructure the Zimbabwean army in a manner that will safeguard his political tenure and interests.
There is no guarantee, however, that the changes in the military that he is in a haste to implement will disrupt stability in the Zimbabwean army.
Mnangagwa’s tinkering with the military structure as well as the killing of civilians by the army in August last year and in January this year, should be a basis for all Zimbabweans to push for the creation of a professional Zimbabwean army that doesn’t dabble in politics.
According to an American army instructor called Mike Faircloth “A Soldier is not just a person in uniform — a true Soldier forms specific character traits over the years.
“These traits in our profession are called ‘The Army Values’.
“These values are: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honour, integrity, and personal courage.”
As a matter of urgency, Zimbabwe should push for the creation of an army that subscribes to the above values.
An army of soldiers that not only cares about Zimbabwe and its citizens but also treats opponents and people with differing views as human beings with rights.