Zimbabwe First Lady May Have Caused Possible Coup

Grace Mugabe maybe overplayed her hand by ousting vice president last week
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2017 2:16 PM CST
Did Grace Mugabe Accidentally Cause Her Husband's Ouster?
In this Saturday Feb. 27, 2016 file photo, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace attend his birthday celebrations in Masvingo.   (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, File)

In a possible coup, the Zimbabwe military put the 93-year-old leader of the country, Robert Mugabe, under house arrest Wednesday, effectively ending his 37 years of control. The New York Times reports the apparent military takeover may have been the result of Mugabe's 52-year-old wife, Grace Mugabe, overplaying her hand as she positioned herself to succeed him. Grace Mugabe and her allies might have "gone too far" when they orchestrated the ousting of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa just last week. He had close ties to the military and is now seen as the likely new leader of Zimbabwe. Here's what else you need to know about the situation:

  • The Guardian reports this could be the end of both Grace Mugabe's "rags-to-riches story" and just an overall bad year for the first lady. She allegedly assaulted a model in South Africa and needed diplomatic immunity to get out of it; prior to his ouster, she denied poisoning Mnangagwa; and her popularity declined along with Zimbabwe's economy.
  • The BBC has more on the 71-year-old Mnangagwa, who is known as "the Crocodile" and whose rule may not be an improvement over that of Mugabe. For starters, Mnangagwa's ties to the military come from his participation in directing the war of independence in the 1970s.
  • The mood in the capital city of Harare is being characterized as cautiously optimistic. "We needed change. Our situation has been pathetic," a 65-year-old woman tells News24. "What is good is that this has happened at the top and it is not affecting us people on the ground. People could be killing each other."
  • The Washington Post has a timeline of Mugabe's nearly 40 years in power, starting with him narrowly escaping death by "80 pounds of remote-controlled explosives" in what was then Rhodesia.

  • For many people inside and outside of Zimbabwe, Mugabe "is the lord of misrule" and "face of failure," the Guardian states. But his time as president has actually been a more complicated slide "from triumph to tragedy."
  • The Globe and Mail has an explainer of what's happening in Zimbabwe and who are the key players, including a list of the individuals being targeted by the military.
  • In a complicated situation, everyone is saying something different. Al Jazeera rounds up statements from people and groups inside and outside Zimbabwe. For example, while the African Union says it "seems like a coup," the Zimbabwe military says it's "only targeting criminals around" Mugabe.
  • An opinion piece in Bloomberg states the situation is "nothing to celebrate," as Mnangagwa "is hardly an improvement" over Grace Mugabe, who "wouldn't be great." And history has shown military takeovers not born out of the will of the people usually don't make things better for those people in the end.
(More Zimbabwe stories.)

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