PoliticsColumnist/Opinion

Illegal regime change in Zimbabwe already happened in 2017!

BY Tendai Ruben Mbofana

Recent utterances by President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have raised an issue that has bedeviled Zimbabwe for the past few decades.

In his wild allegations, Mnangagwa accused the US of ‘consolidating its power’ in neighboring Zambia, in the process leaving ‘us lonely’.

It was undoubted that he was trying to paint an image of a Zimbabwe under an increasing security threat from the US using Zambia as a gateway.

In fact, Mnangagwa’s disingenuous claims that Zambian and Zimbabwe were once one country was a mischievous attempt at drawing parallels to Russian’s own relationship with neighboring Ukraine.

Historically, Ukraine was part of Russia – until the break up of the Soviet Union in December 1991.

We all know that, one of the main factors behind the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, and the March 2014 annexation of Crimea, were largely motivated by Russia’s determination to bring these territories back under its rule.

So, was Mnangagwa expecting to entice Putin into militarily supporting Zimbabwe under the misguided belief that Zambia was another Ukraine?

Let us also remember that the straw that eventually broke Russia’s back was the overt supporting of Ukraine by Western powers, particularly the US, with a sympathetic government installed in power in Kyiv.

Mnangagwa was playing a very dangerous game in stocking conflict with Zambia with the aid of Russia by drawing similarities between the two scenarios.

Thus, Mnangagwa’s efforts in showing that the same was happening in Zambia – as the US ‘consolidated its power’ through the Hakainde Hichilema administration.

This was an extension of the two-decade-old ZANU PF narrative that the West was intent on ‘illegal regime change’ in Zimbabwe, more so after the land reform program of the early 2000s.

There may be some truth in those claims.

However, there are even more truths that the Mnangagwa regime does not want the people to know.

As much as the West, particularly the UK and US, was obsessed with getting rid of then leader Robert Gabriel Mugabe – the situation has since changed.

Granted, these Western powers tried every trick in the book to eliminate Mugabe – through sanctions, a failed UN Security Council resolution, and even the opposition.

Mugabe had been their blue-eyed boy since before Zimbabwe attained its independence – with the British largely believed to have played a covet part in the formation of ZANU as a breakaway from Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo’s ZAPU in August 1963.

Late dictator, Robert Mugabe.

The was because, at the time, ZAPU was viewed as ‘dangerous communists’ due to the backing they received from the Soviet Union.

This was at the height of the Cold War, and colonial Zimbabwe found itself as one of the fighting grounds for global hegemony.

As such, since the ‘winds of change’ were already sweeping across the region, the British had come to terms that Zimbabwe was next to gain its independence.

Therefore, they needed to ensure that whoever took over power had to safeguard their interests.

They found those people in ZANU.

Some may say that ZANU was sponsored by the Chinese.

Indeed, it was – nonetheless, the British has absolutely no problem with that since China in the 1960s and 70s was just an ordinary struggling nation and not a global player at the time.

In addition, this was a most convenient setup since Britain could not be seen siding with those fighting their kith and kin in Rhodesia.

The British would simply lay low and make sure that their puppets, ZANU, would take over at independence.

Generals force Mugabe out.

That is why in 1980, Lord Soames – who was the UK governor during the transition period – made sure the elections went ZANU’s way, in spite of ZAPU being more popular.

In fact, that is how ZANU learned the art of rigging as their only way of both attaining and retaining power – as they were fully aware that the party was not really loved by the masses.

It is the same reason, immediately after independence (1883 to 1987), the Mugabe regime embarked on a systematic genocide against the people of the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces.

This was designed to annihilate ZAPU once and for all.

The British turned a blind eye to these atrocities.

There was no condemnation of human rights abuses, let alone sanctions, because these massacres gelled well with their plan to keep out the Soviets.

That is why, as his hands were dripping with the blood of innocent Zimbabweans, Mugabe was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and accorded numerous awards for his ‘outstanding leadership’.

Only when Mugabe reneged on his mission to protect Western interests at the turn of the millennium – by backing the grabbing of white-owned farms by veterans of Zimbabwe’s independence struggle – did these global powers begin shouting about human rights.

Targeted sanctions on high-ranking officials and some entities were imposed shortly afterward.

This was all meant to both punish Mugabe and his cronies, as well as push them out of power.

The main opposition at the time, Morgan Richard Tsvangirai’s MDC, was funded by these global powers – as the new darlings of the West who would safeguard their interests.

In 2008, these countries even pushed for a UN Security Council resolution imposing tougher economic sanctions on Zimbabwe – which was vetoed by China and Russia.

The regime change agenda was in full throttle.

However, all these machinations failed to oust Mugabe – with the opposition having every election victory stolen from them through blatant vote rigging, intimidation, and ruthless violence.

The West needed plan B.

This is where everything gets very interesting.

WikiLeaks’ release of US diplomatic cables at the time tell a very disturbing story.

After realizing that the sanctions, UN resolutions, and opposition route were not working, the US resorted to effecting regime change through the ruling ZANU PF itself.

According to Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks leaked cables, there were several clandestine meetings between US and high-ranking ZANU PF government officials.

End of road for Mugabe.

In a cable that followed a meeting with a ZANU PF politburo member, a US diplomatic cable reads, “There appears to be a growing realization among some of those in the ruling party’s senior ranks that Zimbabwe is in a very deep hole and that [President] Mugabe’s departure from the scene is a necessary precondition for the policy changes required for an economic turnaround and a restoration of political stability.”

This set the stage for what was to happen in November 2017 – when Mugabe was forced to resign in a military coup d’état backed by some of his own ZANU PF comrades – ushering in Mnangagwa as the new president.

Immediately upon taking over, the UK Ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing congratulated Mnangagwa and pledged to work closely with his regime.

Mnangagwa entered into an agreement with dispossessed white farmers for multi-billion dollar compensation.

Most targeted sanctions were removed in short order as relations between Zimbabwe and the West gradually improved.

Regime change had finally been achieved!

Any continued criticism of the Mnangagwa administration by the West is all part of an act designed to keep up the impression that they (West) are concerned about human rights.

If the West never cared about human rights as the ZANU PF regime massacred thousands of innocent civilians in the 1980s, why would they care today?

Even the support of the opposition of two decades ago is all but gone.

Just as in the 1980s, as long as their interests are protected, then it is business as usual.

As such, all this talk by Mangwana of the West still seeking ‘regime change’ in Zimbabwe is a whole lot of rubbish.

The regime change that Mugabe feared and talked about nearly on a daily basis was accomplished in November 2017.

There are no longer any other ‘regime change’ plans by Western powers on the table.

Mnangagwa is their new puppet and blue-eyed boy – as long as he does not make the same mistake Mugabe made in 2000.

● Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer.  Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: mbofana.tendairuben73@gmail.com, or visit website: https://mbofanatendairuben.news.blog/

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