This is a scene from downtown Harare today, as a soldier walks past a shop looted by rampaging soldiers
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, PREPARE YOURSELVES FOR A STATE OF EMERGENCY TO BE DECLARED IN ZIMBABWE. THIS IS IMMINENT.
I put up a post a few hours ago explaining what I saw of the fight between police and army at Fourth Street Terminus in Harare. I had no idea just what carnage the soldiers had caused until I left the office a little while back. However, this is not what anyone thinks it is. There is method to this whole madness. It is minutely planned.
The soldiers have smashed shopfronts along both Jason Moyo and Nelson Mandela Avenue. On my way home I passed shop after shop with glass shattered and strewn all over the pavement. As those of you who were on the site are aware, I witnessed the start of the fight from my office. We are (un)lucky to have offices overlooking Fourth Street bus terminus, also known as Roadport, which is where the soldiers have been going daily since Friday and causing havoc.
I know most of you think this is the beginning of a mutiny in the ranks of Mugabe's soldiers and at the surface it would appear that way.
First of all, you have to realise that the information I have is coming from inside sources. Second, you also must realise that these incidents are directly linked to the bombing of police stations around Harare this last month (October). The sources who explained what is happening happened to be speaking to someone they trust deeply in my presence and I can assure that the information you are about to read was told only to this person and I. Obviously, you will see this inside information being published by the usual online journals who are now in the habit if visiting here and taking my posts to publish as news of their own. But I am not complaining! This is too important a story and must be shared.
Anyway, here's the thing: This is no mutiny. This is a planned and calculated action and it is not going to stop any time soon. At least not until the final planned action, a State of Emergency. The authorities here in Zim have now made up their minds that the police are sabotaging the efforts to reign in rampant illegal dealings. They think that the police force in Zimbabwe is now passively rebelling against Mugabe, by letting foreign currency dealers and other "criminals" go about their dealings without arresting them. They also suspect strongly that it is the police force that is bombing its own stations, as even the Police Commissioner himself said after the first bomb a few weeks ago. But this is not the main motivation for what you are seeing here. It is only part of a larger strategy by Mugabe, designed specifically to create the conditions necessary for a State of Emergency. The police are not part of this plan, but the bombs come in handy for this strategy.
It was confirmed to me today, before I heard this inside source speaking, that soldiers are being paid their money at the barracks. I was at my bank earlier that day and was discussing the matter of the soldiers with my manager as general chit-chat when he specifically mentioned that they have always been taking money to the barracks and paying soldiers out in situ. The army commanders have told banks that they should turn away any soldier trying to withdraw cash in town, because tellers are paying out at barracks, so there is no truth to the rumour that the soldiers are going on a rampage after failing to withdraw cash.
Instead, four members of the Joint Operations Council, without the approval or knowledge of the Police Commissioner-General, Augustine Chihuri, managed to convince Mugabe that the police are now complicit in the "financial crimes that are ravaging the country." But this action is not directed at the police as I will explain just now. The police have simply given Mugabe an additional arrow to put into his quiver. The bombs themselves are not a part of this plan and that is why Chihuri is being kept in the dark. No member of the police force is part of this strategy to bring about a state of emergency. This is important to note.
Before he left for Doha, Mugabe approved an operation Final End Times/Magumo Zvamuchese. Its internal acronym in the army is FEET, which they think is quite funny seeing as they will be making people flee. This is an operation in which the army have basically been given authority to usurp the role of the police, whom the JOC and Mugabe believe have failed, "either because they are demoralised or because they are simply not up to job."
The operation is not supposed to end until all places known to be "havens of forex dealers" are completely cleaned out. To do this effectively, the authorities believe, it is necessary to have a state of emergency. That is the ultimate aim. Primarily, this is about the economy, but ZANU PF hawks also believe that it will have the added bonus of effectively making the talks redundant. It is an intricate and very crafty strategy, astonishing for its inventiveness when it is laid bare. And it is working, because virtually publication in the world has swallowed the bait and thinks this is the beginning of a rebellion against Mugabe. It is working as Mugabe planned. So far.
Gideon Gono's concurrent clampdown on "white collar crime"and "indiscipline" is supposed to, in the words of the originators of this plan, "decapitate the beast while the army deals with the body". More importantly, Gono features in this story because, starting Thursday, people will be allowed to withdraw $100 million in one transaction per week. This is a lot of money (my bank manager claims not to earn that much per month from his job). The government believes that when Thursday comes and if nothing is done about these money-changers, the price of the US dollar will rise stupendously, fuelling inflation to even higher levels and frustrating Mugabe's efforts to bring the economy back to some form of stable footing. Under Section 53 of the Emergency rule laws of Zimbabwe, "violation of exchange control" or suspicion that one is about violate exchange control get special attention and would, in the eyes of the government, help in dealing with the "extraordinary threat" this crime is posing to economic security.
IT IS IMPORTANT HERE TO EXPLAIN THAT THE PURPOSE OF ALL THIS IS TWO-PRONGED. ONE ASPECT DEALS WITH HOW TO, IN THE WORDS OF GONO, "DEAL WITH THE CASH PROBLEMS ONCE AND FOR ALL" AND THE OTHER IS TO DEAL A FINAL BLOW TO THE TALKS IN SUCH A WAY THAT THE STATE OF EMERGENCY WILL BE BLESSED BY SADC. The economic war is not central to this strategy. This is about how to retain power without the MDC, who have scuttled the talks by walking away.
The real story, therefore, is not Police vs Army, but Army vs Money-changers, in order to create conditions the world will accept as making a state emergency inevitable. It is just that the police do not know what the army are up to and, "professionally", they are responding to disturbances in the city centre in the manner Mugabe taught them - send in the riot squad and disperse the mob, even if that mob are soldiers. The soldiers in turn resent the police interfering in what they know to be a legitimate operation and they respond by trying to chase away riot police, to leave them to do their job. The soldiers are not aware if the grander plan. They think they are being asked to deal with money-changers once and for all and are not aware how their actions will be used later on next week to achieve the main goal of all this.
The police have been left completely out of this plan because they simply are not trusted anymore. Ask yourself this: soldiers have been "running amok" since Friday last week. Everyday they are on the streets doing this. If this is a mutiny, why has discipline not been enforced? Why are military police amongst the soldiers doing these things? Why, if this is a "mutiny" have soldiers not been confined to barracks? Why are they being let out, driven to specific points and then safely going back to barracks without facing any music there from their superiors? More importantly, ask yourself this: has Mugabe rushed back to Zimbabwe from Middle East where is currently attending a conference? Why not?
Look, it is difficult for a layman to understand this deeply crafty strategy, how to connect the police to the army. This strategy, which has so far managed to fool the world, can be broken down to:
1. The army "rebels", goes on the rampage
2. The State declares a State of Emergency
3. The state of emergency allows the state to (a) rule without the MDC (b) deal "decisively" with the biggest headache it will face after this: the economy, through allowing extraordinary measures to be taken against any "financial terrorist", a phrase you will start hearing a lot about from next week at the earliest.
If you grasp this, then you understand immediately why Mugabe is now not afraid of Chitongai tione."
So, in essence then, the soldiers are deliberately being let out to punish foreign currency dealers, who the government believe are the root cause of the economic problems we face because they are the ones deliberately pushing up forex rates to drive Mugabe out of power. Theirs is a specific mission they have been given and they believe that's all there is to it. They have not been told of the bigger picture.
Another angle to all this is the "looting" of shops. The shops being "looted" are not just any shops. If you care to check, you will see that specific shops owned by two groups of people, are being targeted:
1. The groups in Zimbabwe who are known to be active in dealing in forex: (there is a racial connotation to this, which I will not dignify with an explanation, but all you Zimbabweans know what I am talking about). These are groups of people known not to go to banks even when things are "normal" in the country. Gono has publicly warned them before, I think about two years ago or a year and a half. The government believes that these are the people who fuel the black market because they take their daily cash takings and buy US dollars with them. They are, in the words of one source,"the handmaidens of the money-changers and foreign interests".
2. Prominent businessmen, very successful, who are known to be supporters of the opposition (financially). One of them does not live in Zimbabwe anymore but his business is doing extremely well here. The reasoning behind targeting this group is simple as explained in my presence: you are supporting people who are hitting the economic interests of Zimbabwe, in the hope of bringing Mugabe down, so now we will hit your economic interests. Right back at ya!
But this is only preparation. It is almost certain now that after this exercise has been allowed to run its course, our source does not know the time frame, the current illegitimate government of Zimbabwe will have created sufficient cause to impose a proper state of emergency, complete with proper martial law. The government now believes that this is what is required to restore economic order as well as to allow ZANU PF to continue in power without SADC raising eyebrows and without the MDC. Parliament, the MDC's trump card, is now redundant.
What is certain is that the civilian courts will be suspended and white collar crime, including money-changing and all the other acts classified as "financial crimes" under the current sweeping laws will be tried by the military courts. At this time, I am unable to rule out the imposition of mandatory death sentences for those found guilty.
Search through the pages of this blog and you will see that almost two weeks ago, I predicted exactly this while analysing Mugabe's possible reaction to the breakdown of talks. The whole charade about the soldiers, which most publication on the Internet and in print are reporting at face value, is so that Mugabe has a strong case to present to SADC heads of state on why a State of Emergency was unavoidable. It would be hard for him to get their support if he simply said it was necessary because Morgan refused to join him and therefore made running the country through parliament impossible (because MDC have a majority there).
While the world is looking at the story of soldiers rebelling, gleefully and hopefully reporting their smashing of shop fronts and looting, Mugabe, the past-master at survival (a phrase I have borrowed from the BBC), is actually implementing a strategy that will catch everyone by surprise. By the time they realise what is happening, it will be too late (remember the land invasions, dismissed by everyone before they happened as "He would be mad to do that!")
Already, this evening, while I was still in the office, I got an example of just how wrongly the opposition community is reading this. I got a text message that "soldiers are running amok, chaos everywhere, there will be a demo by ZCTU and NCA.....please pass on". I have deliberately left out the date because I do not want to alert the wrong people before the fact, but I am sure they already know. Anyway, I do not like to think I contributed to what will happen to them this week when their demo is quashed. And it will be quashed.
This is because they mistakenly think that the soldiers will join them and beat back the police. They won't. The soldiers have not rebelled against Mugabe. Which is why Mugabe has not rushed back home from the middle east where he is attending a UN conference. He knows exactly what is happening. And he knows why. And he knows he is safe.
I would dearly love to have a discussion on this with you all. But I do understand if you are afraid to discuss such a frightening issue "on paper". We Zimbabweans have always been like that, so I will understand if you all decide against commenting and debating this.
This is the strategy, unfolding as I explained a couple of weeks back. Make your stand, make your preparations with this in mind.