Guns At Mugabe's House

Even farm invaders who are clearly not soldiers regularly tot guns, intimidating farm workers and farmers alike. The existence of arms outside the control of the armed forces of Zimbabwe is certainly explained by scenes like these. And it raises a lot of questions about the immediate aftermath of a post-Mugabe dispensation. It could be messy if not managed properly and with wisdom.

Harare, Zimbabwe, 19 November 2009

It turns out that Mugabe's party, ZANU PF, has its own inventory of guns.

They are part of the armoury used by ZANU PF during the liberation war and includes AK 47s and mounted machine guns. It is a well-known fact that during the ceasefire period in 1980, in the run-up to Zimbabwe's first election, ZANLA forces, as well as ZIPRA forces (from ZAPU), held back some of the guns that they had been using.

Ian Smith complained bitterly about this to Lord Soames, the British Governor who oversaw the elections.

It was Mugabe's strong belief that ZAPU had also held back some weapons and this is what sparked the crackdown now known as Gukurahundi in Matabeleland, the ZAPU stronghold.

The arms are kept at Zimbabwe House, opposite Mugabe's official residence, State House (which he does not live in any more) and the army is aware of their existence apparently. ZANU PF has supplied the serial numbers of all the guns in their possession, as well as information such as make and type.

When this information came to light earlier today, it answered a question that was repeatedly asked during the violent and chaotic presidential election run-off last year: Where are ZANU PF getting the AK47 s and such that are being displayed openly by civilian members of the party as they go around intimidating people all over Zimbabwe's countryside?

Clearly, not everyone you see totting a gun in the rural areas is a soldier.

Here is another reason to be cautious and methodical about the way we manage the transition from Mugabe's rule to the next administration. Who knows into whose hands within ZANU PF these arms will fall should there be a chaotic and abrupt transition?

If Mugabe were to drop dead today, what would be fate of this ZANU PF armoury considering that there is no consensus in that party about who should take over from Mugabe. Although right now, Emmerson Mnangagwa is seen as being Mugabe's candidate, there is stiff resistance to his ascendancy from other factions in that party.

Things would be simpler if the party had someone whose authority everyone deferred to after Mugabe. But that is not the case. It is only Mugabe who is the glue preventing ZANU PF to fall apart like broken pottery.

As previously stated here, the chances of a balkanisation (or Somalilisation) of Zimbabwe are very real.

All because one man thought he should not appoint anyone to be next in line from him in case they got into their head to oust him and install themselves.


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