Issa Coup but Not Really: How Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe Happened to Find Himself Under ‘House Arrest’

 Zimbabwean soldiers regulate traffic in Harare, the capital, on Nov. 15, 2017. Zimbabwe’s military appeared to be in control of the country as generals denied staging a coup but used state television to vow to target “criminals” close to President Robert Mugabe. (AFP/Getty Images)
Zimbabwean soldiers regulate traffic in Harare, the capital, on Nov. 15, 2017. Zimbabwe’s military appeared to be in control of the country as generals denied staging a coup but used state television to vow to target “criminals” close to President Robert Mugabe. (AFP/Getty Images)

In a surprise military takeover that is being described as not a coup, Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, has been confined to his home since the country’s military declared that it had taken over the country to target the “criminals” inside the Mugabe regime.

Because this ongoing drama hasn’t been at the forefront of regular, white-people news, please allow The Root to break it down for you:

Who is Robert Mugabe?

You know your mean-ass granduncle who always has a sour look on his face, talks shit to everyone in the family and carries a knife in his front pocket, but your aunts tell you how he fought in the war and participated in the civil rights movement?


Robert Mugabe is your 93-year-old Zimbabwean granduncle.

He has been the leader of Zimbabwe for more than 30 years, after spending the early part of his adulthood as a revolutionary, traveling to countries around southern Africa to literally fight white people. He spent time in jail in then-Rhodesia after fighting white minority rule, smuggled himself into Mozambique to help fight and eventually lead a guerrilla war and was eventually elected prime minister of Zimbabwe in 1980.


He sounds like a badass. So why do people not like him?

He is rightly considered a hero who helped end colonization in at least three countries, but he’s also kind of a dick. After gaining power, he eventually coerced the Zimbabwean Parliament into naming him president. He then took control of everything and eventually became a dictator, forcing white people to say “There goes the neighborhood” and flee the country. He swears he didn’t tell people to seize land and kill white farmers, but he also didn’t see anything wrong with it. Several farmers were murdered during Mugabe’s controversial land-requisition campaign, but he has said that their killers will not be prosecuted.


As dictator, he has been accused of allowing his military leaders to gang-rape girls and women, some as young as 12 years old; kill citizens; and even rig the shady “elections” that he always somehow seems to win, sometimes after whole contingents of his opposition end up dead.

He has also mismanaged the country’s resources, plunging Zimbabwe into debt. State employees, including police officers, haven’t been paid for months. Yet no one dares speak out because, remember, he keeps that knife in his front pocket. Only, Mugabe’s knife is an army of men with machine guns.


So what happened this week?

Well, Mugabe had a homeboy named Emmerson Mnangagwa, or “the Crocodile.” Like Mugabe, Mnangagwa is a badass from Zimbabwe’s guerrilla wars and loved by the old-school “security” forces that are ostensibly the country’s military veterans. The Crocodile is a former intelligence chief who eventually became Mugabe’s vice president and was expected to succeed Mugabe.


But Robert Mugabe also has a wife, Grace Mugabe. Grace Mugabe is 41 years younger than her husband and began emerging as a political leader in her own right. Like her husband, she is known for punching people in the face.


In a shocking move, Robert Mugabe recently fired Vice President Mnangagwa, paving the way for Grace to assume the leadership of the country after her 93-year-old husband steps down or dies. Probably dies. Mean uncles never “step down.” Definitely dies.

According to numerous reports, including an in-depth piece by The Guardian, Mnangagwa and the military took over the country and put Mugabe under a version of “house arrest” a few hours ago. The Crocodile says that he wants to get rid of the corrupt elements of the government. Through an official spokesperson, the military forces say that Mugabe will step down in a few days and the Crocodile will assume Mugabe’s position.


But this is really about seizing control. Grace Mugabe has the support of her husband, while the military faction that kept law and disorder for Robert Mugabe has clearly sided with Mnangagwa.

So what happens now?

Who knows? It’s a military coup forced reorganization, bruh.

They have seized the TV network ZTV (which, I would assume, plays all the episodes of The Cosby Show—you can get them cheap now). Gunshots have been heard in parts of the capital city of Harare, where many officials live. Mugabe called his homeboy Jacob Zuma, the leader of South Africa, and said he’s fine, according to the BBC.


Maybe Mugabe stays under house arrest and has to retire and wear an ankle monitor. Maybe he dies from two weeks of diarrhea, like he had a couple of months ago after, his wife claims, someone poisoned him (it’s difficult as hell to kill old black men).


Or maybe he becomes Zimbabwe’s old, mean-ass uncle, sitting around the cookout in his Kangol-and-short set, scowling, playing with his knife, telling stories about how he used to run shit.

We’ll see.

Read more at The Guardian.

World-renowned wypipologist. Getter and doer of "it." Never reneged, never will. Last real negus alive.

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