Thousands of Zimbabweans filled the streets of Harare to push former president Robert Mugabe out of power when the military launched what it dubbed “Operation Restore Legacy” in November last year.
Excited Zimbabweans celebrated Mugabe’s eventual exit expectant of miraculous economic revival after enduring debilitating cash and goods shortages and joblessness among countless other economic and political maladies.
But now, a few weeks after the end of Operation Restore Legacy, it has become clear who the major beneficiaries of Mugabe’s fall are.
Former commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Retired General Constantino Chiwenga who led the operation is now Vice-President.
“Gen Chiwenga, you are our liberator,” screamed one of the many posters pampering the general who had taken the bull by its horns, holding Mugabe hostage and pushing him to resign, a thing that had been beyond everyone’s imagination — not only in Zimbabwe, but world over.
Mugabe indeed had come to appear an immortal human who according to his wife, former first lady Grace would continue to rule the country even from the grave.
The demise of the strongman’s stretching political life was met with wild euphoria, and the joy could be understood, for people who had for decades been in political and economic prison.
So, off goes Mugabe and in comes Mnangagwa, the Crocodile, carrying on his shoulders the massive burden of fulfilling the wide expectations of the masses.
Then Major General Sibusiso Moyo, who announced Operation Restore Legacy, clearly spelling out the mission of the military — to restore the Zanu PF legacy. He is now a cabinet minister, in charge of the all-important Foreign Affairs.
Upon Mugabe’s departure, people had high hopes for a transitional arrangement that would fix the country’s economy and the people’s first frustration was heralded by the introduction of Mnangagwa’s new cabinet that was dominated by Mugabe’s former ministers, a few technocracies and the military.
“President Mnangagwa’s Cabinet is very disappointing. Largely the same people that caused this crisis have been recycled. The honey moon comes to an end and reality dawns. His concern seems to be rewarding those who brought him to power and Zanu PF unity,” Chamisa tweeted at the time.
In his Cabinet, he appointed General Moyo as the new Foreign Affairs minister, Air Marshal Perrance Shiri as Agriculture minister before eventually appointing Chiwenga as Vice-President. He also rewarded war veterans who played a key role by defying Mugabe and standing resolutely in his support.
Political analyst Alexander Rusero said from a strategic studies point of view, success or failure of military operations would be credited to the master architects as well as implementers of the plan and not necessarily anyone outside it.
“As such the spoils of an operation are normally set to be enjoyed by those who initiate them just as if they fail the very same people suffer the fate and consequences,” Rusero said.
‘So it is out of question who the beneficiaries of Operation Restore Legacy are. They are obviously the military elite, particularly the commanders under the leadership of the now retired but powerful Chiwenga.”
He said Mnangagwa was very mindful of the fundamental fact that architects of Operation Restore Legacy who catapulted him to power after the humiliating removal of Mugabe, ought to be rewarded satisfactorily.
“All the men knew the consequences of what they decided to do had it failed. So you cannot reward those who gamble their lives for a cause with lesser satisfactory privileges lest another disgruntlement manifests,” Rusero said.
He said Mnangagwa would aim to build assurance and mutual relationship between himself and the military who were instrumental in his ascendancy to the throne.
“Betrayal of that trust will be met with undesired outcomes at which the President might emerge the biggest loser. Mugabe’s demise was triggered by the betrayal of trust to cronies who for long had been prepared to kill or die for him,” Rusero said.
“Put simply, those who masterminded the downfall of Mugabe should enjoy the same way the so-called criminals surrounding Mugabe were enjoying the comfort zones of power.”
Rusero said if people thought the military action was meant for them, they were mistaken:
“The basic lesson of politics is that you do not take power to share it with everyone but to enjoy it. As such, the operation is much about those who took power from Mugabe and no one else,” he said.
– The Standard