Tsvangirai to be arrested by coup leaders on arrival

HARARE – Zimbabwean coup leaders led by Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa are planning to arrest Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on his arrival from South Africa where he has been meeting South African President Jacob Zuma, impeccable sources in the Zimbabwean intelligence revealed to The Zimbabwe Mail.

Also to be arrested are nine members of the MDC including the Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe. 

Sources in the Zimbabwean intelligence have confirmed that there is a coup currently underway in Zimbabwe and it is being carried out by JOC. They plan to ban all political activities and arrest opponents from the MDC leadership.

The Joint Operations Command (JOC) is the supreme organ for the coordination of state security in Zimbabwe. It was established by the Rhodesian government and co-ordinated the counter-insurgency war in the Zimbabwe’s liberation war.

The JOC, led by Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa has effectively carried out a coup in Zimbabwe replacing the coalition government and has become the de facto controller of the day-to-day decision-making of government, and effectively operating as a military junta.

The Zimbabwe coup leaders are JOC members; Emmerson Mnangagwa – Minister of Defence (JOC Chairman), General Constantine Chiwenga – Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Philip Sibanda – Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army, Air Marshal Perence Shiri – Commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe, Commissioner Augustine Chihuri – Commissioner of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Major General (Ret.) Paradzayi Zimondi – Head of the Zimbabwe prison service, Happyton Bonyongwe – Director-General of the Central Intelligence Organisation, Gideon Gono – Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai met President Jacob Zuma in South Africa yesterday to seek his protection against the imminent arrest by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s judicial authorities, Tsvangirai’s aides said.  

If Tsvangirai is arrested, this could drive the final nail into the coffin of the deeply troubled two-year unity government which has already been shaken by the recent arrest of Tsvangirai’s Energy Minister, Elton Mangoma.

Mangoma’s arrest comes amid reports that nine other MDC-T MPs that include Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe, Home Affairs co-minister Theresa Makone, dethroned Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo, Glen View MP Paul Madzore and Chipinge West MP Sibonile and Nyamudeza are among those also targeted for arrest. 

Tsvangirai, who heads the larger faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was seen talking to Zuma at the president’s home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, during an umbondo ceremony yesterday to mark the coming marriage of Zuma’s son Edward.

Zuma’s aides said that Tsvangirai was there on private business not related to the ceremony but would not say what that business was.

MDC sources said that Tsvangirai had gone to Nkandla to tell Zuma he fears that Zimbabwe’s Attorney-General, Johannes Tomana, known to be partial to Mugabe’s Zanu-PF, is planning to arrest him on a charge of contempt of court.

This relates to disparaging remarks that Tsvangirai made earlier this month about Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court judges who upheld the dismissal of MDC Speaker of Parliament, Lovemore Moyo.

Moyo had been removed from his position by Parliament on the grounds that his election had been unprocedural but had appealed the decision to the High Court, which overturned Parliament’s decision and reinstated him.

But Zanu-PF MP Jonathan Moyo, Mugabe’s former Information Minister, appealed to the Supreme Court which overruled the High Court earlier this month and confirmed Moyo’s dismissal.

Tsvangirai criticised the Supreme Court judges, suggesting their decision had been politically motivated. He later retracted the statement.

But MDC sources said Tsvangirai believed that Tomana was nonetheless preparing to lay contempt of court charges against him.

If he did, that would make it very difficult for Tsvangirai to remain in the unity government as he is already being sharply criticised by supporters for allowing himself to be bullied by Mugabe.

When Mangoma was arrested two weeks ago on charges related to the procurement of fuel from South Africa, Tsvangirai said the unity government was on the brink of “divorce”.

He is understood to have said last week that if he were arrested, he would walk out of the government.

His own arrest could push him over the edge.

Tsvangirai’s dilemma, though, is that many observers believe Mugabe is deliberately provoking him into quitting the unity government so he can call new elections, win them by whatever means necessary, and so finally rid himself of the MDC.

In the same vein, Mugabe’s officials have also begun banning MDC rallies and political violence is reportedly increasing, especially in the rural areas of Zimbabwe.

Zuma is the official Southern African Development Community mediator for Zimbabwe.

Ten days ago his office announced that his facilitation team would travel to Zimbabwe this past week to address the stalemate.

But then the facilitation team said it would delay the visit to the first week of April to allow the three Zimbabwean parties to prepare their own progress reports on their negotiations.

However, Tsvangirai’s visit to Zuma in Nkandla yesterday suggests that events in Zimbabwe are overtaking his facilitation team’s relaxed schedule.