Wednesday, 10 January 2018

East Africa dark days.

Age limit abolished.


By Hussein Kiyanjo.

Ugandans have just witnessed another example of elite craft against the people's  will.

We have seen all main participants at different stages playing their role. We saw the decoy of a private member and his group.  Then we saw the major party and consequently their chairman plus cabinet. We also watched the army, police and other security organs desecrate Parliament.

Keen observers saw both the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Uganda do their part availling un budgeted cash to proponents of the bill. We followed the minority parliamentarians on both sides sustaining a powerful campaign till the end at exactly 11pm on the historic night of 20th December 2017.

Besides this recent episode,  there have been tireless efforts by religious and civil societies as well as The Elders Forum to find a durable solution to the country's succesion question.

Before then over the years  there has been a long list of  candidates who also tried to follow the rightful procedures of the law to cause political change  but all in vain. I can remember,  in no particular  order -Dr Semogerere. Mr. Muhammad  Kibirige Mayanja. Mr Francis Bwengye. Hon Aggrey Awori. Haj Sebaggala. Col. Kiiza Besigye. Hon Sebaana Kizito,  Hon. Norbert  Mao. Hon. Beti Kamya Mr. Lubega Mukaaku. Mr. Olara Otunu. Mrs Miria Obote. Hon. Bidandi Ssali. Prof. Baryamureeba. Hon. Amama Mbabazi. Dr Kyalya. Gen Biraro. Pastor Abed Bwanika and Mr. Elton Joseph Mabirizi.

All the above meant well save for changing positions of some as of now. There are some on the list who were thought to be weak, ridiculed  and considered lacking in 'substance' only to discover at the end that even those perceived to be powerful ended up with the same net result as their earlier colleagues.

When I was a Member of the 8th and 9th Parliament some of us resisted the creation of Districts and constituencies hence the ever swelling numbers of the legislature but we were over powered at all occassions. Some members on my side were tricked to support the idea. Now you all know what the intention was.

There have been critics of hardline members of parliament who were called all sorts of names and were blamed for using their fists rather than their debating skills.

My position was and still is that these were more relevant and somehow propotionate to the treacherous  tricks of the dictator than some of us who were thought to be smarter at debate.  I argue even now that you can't  fault Hon Niwagaba,  Hon Sekikubo,  Hon Seggona,  Hon Ogenga Latigo,  Hon Regan Okumu, Hon Winnie Kiiza,  Hon Abdu Katuntu,  Hon Mathias Mpuuga (a typical sample) for being violent and lacking in debate. But where  is the profit of their sober effort?

They have cited laws and rules, they have attempted court processes but the hard liners scored higher in the end. I dont have words suitable anough to thank them and more so those from NRM who braved the intimidation and tesisted the bribes. You are great!!!

During this last hot debate on the ammendment of the constitution you must have heard voices of seccesion from the North, the East and the Central.  It was only the West which was understandebly silent on this issue.

You wonder how quick time flies; when I raised a similar voice 8 years ago many simply rubbished my cry; reality has vindicated me.

In short,  we are faced with a dictator who employs elite conspiracy using both good English and twisted law,  mixed with military dominance and financial bribes to subdue the majority voices.

It is time to concede that conventional methods have failed and to start listening carefully to voices of other means from people we may erroneously  consider irrelevant.  These are the general public who have been cheated and variously robbed  through a scheme of tricks. They are definitely  going to react and I doubt whether they will be advised on how where and when because they have lost trust in elite leadership and only look at us as hypocritical  self seekers.

They will not listen to any voice whatever reasonable because they have seen our glaring failure in the face of a military man attempting to create family rule using their resources. Any one who thinks am wrong can continue to try their luck.

Look at what mainly transpired. The presidential age limit was scrapped, the term limits reinstated and the parliamentary term was expanded to seven years. If all goes according to plan the presidential term will also be expanded accordingly after a referendum. These have never been the desired positions of the masses but were arrived at by self seeking legislaters duped by a greedy leader.

The argument that 5 years arent enough time is lame because even 7 is equally short. I would have been persuaded if they had proposed 35,  because even after 32 years the president  is not yet done and seems to be just begining work.

He has started with the constitutional amendment  as was the case in 1995. He has to re-establish cooperatives. He wants to start on the railway system.  He also in high gear to fly a flag carrier (the same Uganda Airlines he destroyed). He has just embarked on distributing coffee and fruit seedlings.  Recently he commissioned sign posts which indicate the construction of an oil pipeline...  so the list is long.  All are new projects which can not be completed in 14 years. After 14 what guarantee does any one have that the sitting parliament will not craft new reasons to lift the terms again?

Bellow is a conservative sequence of events as they are likely to unfold. Am just thinking allowed you can create your own check list but one fact is that things will never be the same again.

To begin with some of the legislators who have secured the seven years will not live to benefit from them as death will continue to  take its toll. This is not to say that some us will not face the same fate.

We are going to see MPs  facing increased financial demands from voters who have discovered that their purported  representatives actually work for money (selfishly) than the people.

Very soon there is going to be a cabinet reshuffle  to reward the new turks as well as offload the misplaced "parasites" currently occupying positions.

Those who will live hopefully to the next general ellection are going to experience unprecedented in fighting during party primaries for the presidential flag bearer Ugandans may see Gen Moses Ali, Haji Kirunda, Hon Kajura Hon Sekandi, Hon Sam Kutesa among the candidates.

On the other hand we may also be suprised by Hon Kibuule Hon Balyeku Hon Anite also puting up bids for the big office but i bet all will be intimidated into solence or just heftly bought out.

The parliamentary flag bearers are going to fight even more with majority ending up joining other parties or running as indipendents and for the first time we are likely to see drastically reduced numbers of NRM in the 11th parliament if they are not outrightly defeated.

The regime is going to increase and tighten security around themselves and their cronies. The dictator will act more ruthlesly on suspected opponents and brutally on outright ones.

We are going to see more militia training  sessions and so called crime preventers all over Uganda(chaka mchaka).

We shall also witness enhanced curbs on  civil liberties as well as increased curtailment of press freedom save the current Mutabazi crusade.

There is likely to be many Ugandans running into exile in three main categories;  political for fear of repression professional for frustration of poor pay and economic for lack of employment.

The education system is going to deteriorate further,  as the  health services are substituted by traditional healers and unqualified jua kali medical personnel.

We are definitely  going to witness accelerated  corruption, nepotism and tribalism in public institutions as the unpopular leader will opt to sorround himself with his own trusted tribesmen while at the same time he won't  have the moral authority to fight these vices.

As a result,  we must face an inevitable closure of both local and foreign investiments because of dwindling profits.  Next will be unbearable inflation and the net effect of this will be a collapsing  economy.

Crime is going to be on the rise and with the failure of the traditional police the justice system will be rendered impotent.

Lastly we might live to see terrorism gaining currency as a result of frustration and hopelesness.

If people of faith don't  pray harder,  we shall end up with destruction  and a break down of Uganda into small tribal states controlled by young millitias in the end.

Fore warned is fore armed.

_Hon. Hussein Kyanjo is former MP Makindye West and retired Secretary General, JEEMA_

2017 is gone let's Wait 2018 buldozer new chapters

The dinosaur of Dodoma
John Magufuli is bulldozing the opposition and wrecking the economy

“African socialism” did not work in Tanzania

CRITICALLY ill in a hospital in Nairobi, Tundu Lissu, the chief whip of Tanzania’s main opposition party, Chadema, is a lesson to those who would criticise the Tanzanian president, John Magufuli (pictured). On September 7th Mr Lissu was gunned down in broad daylight near his house in the sleepy administrative capital, Dodoma, after returning from a session in parliament. The attempted assassination came just two weeks after he was arrested—for the sixth time—for such things as insulting the president. It is not clear who was behind the attack. A month later, the government has yet to make any arrests. Mr Lissu had previously complained about being followed, and said he worried he might be killed. “This cowardly attack on one of Tanzania’s most fearless and prominent politicians raises concerns about the safety of all dissident voices in the country, at a time when space for dissent is quickly shrinking,” said Amnesty International, a human-rights group.

Tanzania, a country of 55m people on the East African coast, is rarely seen as one of Africa’s problem cases. Unlike Congo, Uganda or Burundi, it has never had a civil war or a military dictatorship. And although its elections have never once ousted the party (and its predecessor) that has governed Tanzania since independence in 1962, nor are they especially bloody affairs. Yet over the past two years, since the election of John Magufuli, Tanzania’s descent into autocracy has been stunning. It is a lesson in how when the presidency is strong and other institutions are weak, a single bad leader can set a country back many years.

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The attack on Mr Lissu occurred in an atmosphere of intensifying political repression. Opposition rallies have been banned for almost a year on spurious security grounds. Dozens of people have been arrested for insulting the president on internet chat groups under a cybercrimes law. Even musicians have not escaped the rap. In March Emmanuel Elibariki, a hip-hop artist, released a song in which he asked “is there still freedom of expression in the country?” The answer was no: he was swiftly arrested and his song was banned from the airwaves.

Mr Lissu’s is not the only case where words have been met with violence. In August the offices of IMMMA, a law firm that has handled lawsuits against the government, was bombed. Several opposition figures have disappeared in the past year, including the personal assistant of Freeman Mbowe, the leader of Chadema. On the island of Zanzibar members of the Civic United Front, a separatist-leaning party that won elections in 2015 that were later annulled, have been targeted by pro-government militias known as “zombies”.

Mr Magufuli, who is nicknamed “the bulldozer”, impressed many when he came into office by cracking down on corruption. But his economic ideas have a whiff of the “African socialism” of Julius Nyerere, the country’s founding leader, who declared a one-party state, nationalised factories and forced peasants at gunpoint onto collective farms. Donors had to step in to prevent mass starvation.

Mr Magufuli is not as ruinously radical. But he has caused traffic to collapse at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s main port, which serves six countries, by imposing a huge tax on goods that pass through it. Ships have simply gone to Kenya instead.

More startling still is Tanzania’s dispute with Acacia, a British gold-mining firm. The government claims that its two mines have been producing more than 10 times as much gold as they declared (which would make them the two largest gold mines in the world, by far). Preposterously, it says the firm owes taxes of $190bn, or roughly four times Tanzania’s annual GDP. Acacia has been forced to halt exports and has cut back production.

Other firms worry they may be next. Petra Diamonds closed its mine in Tanzania in September after the government seized a parcel of diamonds it was exporting. And on October 9th Aliko Dangote, a Nigerian cement billionaire, accused Mr Magufuli of scaring investors away. Few Tanzanian businessmen are as critical publicly, but in private they are damning. “We are shit scared. If this can happen to Acacia, it can happen to anyone,” says one.

Foreign firms can at least turn to foreign judges for protection. In August a Bombardier jet bought for Air Tanzania was seized by a Canadian court on behalf of Stirling Civil Engineering. The company had won an international arbitration in 2010 after not being paid for building roads. This may not be the last such judgment. Symbion Power, an energy producer, is claiming $561m from Tanzania’s state-owned electricity utility after it was not paid for electricity for more than a year.

What will happen now? There are few constraints on Mr Magufuli. With the opposition neutered, the ruling party remains mostly unchallenged. Mr Magufuli’s allies in parliament have even suggested extending the presidential term from five years to seven. Tanzania suffered wretchedly under one bullheaded socialist. It cannot afford another.

This article appeared in the Middle East and Africa section of the print edition under the headline "The dinosaur of Dodoma"

2017chapters are finished let's wait the 2018 chapters

Copyright © The Economist Newspaper Limited 2018.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Mfumo wa Serikali tatu bado ni Tishio au Suluhisho?


Na Awadh Ali Said,

Nimeusoma Waraka uliotolewa na Waziri wa Maliasili na Utalii wa Tanzania Bara, Dkt Hamisi Kigwangwalla, MB, uliolenga kutoa ufafanuzi juu ya hatua yake ya kuteua ile aliyoiita Kamati ya Kitaalam ya kuandaa Utambulisho Mpya wa Tanzania kwenye masoko ya Kimataifa ya Utalii.

Ikumbukwe kuwa Uteuzi wa Kamati hii hapo mwanzoni ulishirikisha wajumbe kutoka upande wa Tanzania Bara tu, jambo lililopelekea Wazanzibari kulalamika sana (katika mitandao ya kijamii, na hata baadhi ya Wajumbe wa Baraza la Wawakilishi) juu ya hatua hiyo , na baada ya malalamiko hayo Mh Waziri haraka akaongeza Wajumbe watano wakitokea Zanzibar na hapo ukafuatia Waraka huo wa Ufafanuzi.

Kama ielewekavyo Utalii haumo katika ile orodha endelevu ya Mambo ya Muungano. Hivyo hoja kuu inayotaka majibu kwa hapa sio kuwa Kamati imeundwa bila kuingiza Wazanzibari, bali Jee pande mbili hizi za Muungano kwa maana ya Zanzibar na Tanzania Bara ziliwahi kukaa pamoja na KUKUBALIANA kuwa zifanye utambulisho wa utalii KWA PAMOJA katika masoko ya nje? Huu ndio uwamuzi wa msingi. Ndio uwamuzi wa kisera na wa kimwelekeo. Kama pande mbili hizi zilikaa na kukubaliana basi hilo ndio la kuelezwa na kujadiliwa. Tuarifiwe kuwa pande mbili hizi zilikubaliana hilo na kuwa baada ya Makubaliano hayo  Waziri wa Utalii wa Tanzania Bara alipewa mamlaka na madaraka  ya kuunda Tume.  Vinginevyo ni sawa na kusema kuwa Mh. Waziri alijichukulia  mamlaka asiyo kuwa nayo. Na ndio kusema kuwa maamuzi yake hayo yako nje ya mamlaka yake (ultra vires) na hivyo ni batili (null and void) Kama hili la Makubaliano halikufanyika, maamuzi yake ya kujiamulia kufanya Utambulisho wa Utalii na kuishirikisha Zanzibar ni batili kisheria na Tume yake ni batili kwa kiwango cha ushirikishwaji wa Wajumbe wanaosadikiwa kuiwakilisha  Zanzibar. Jaribio lake la kuingiza Wajumbe Wazanzibari hakulipi uhalali jambo ambalo msingi wake na tokea mwanzoni kwake ni batili (void ab initio). Pia karaha inayoambatana na khatua hii ni kuwa Zanzibar imewekwa kama  KIVUTIO kimoja tu cha Utalii wa Tanzania, vyengine ni Kilimanjaro na Serengeti.  Waelewa wa Nini Tanzania katika muktadha wa mambo yasiyo ya Muungano wanajua kuwa kinacholengwa ni Tanzania Bara. Hivyo Zanzibar inatumika tu kuutangaza utalii wa Tanzania Bara. Inashangaza ni vipi Waziri wa upande mmoja wa Muungano anaehusika na jambo lisilo la Muungano anavyoweza kuingilia na kujiamulia kuchukua hatua mchana kweupe kwa jambo lisilokuwa chini ya dhamana yake kwa kujiamini kulikopitiliza.

Yawezekana hili ni jaribio jengine la "kuimarisha" Muungano ambao maisha yote tafsiri yake ni kupunguza mamlaka ya Zanzibar katika maeneo mbali mbali na kuyaingiza katika kapu la Muungano, ambalo kimsingi ni kapu la Tanzania Bara. Yanapofanyika haya inatukumbusha ile mizani mashuhuri iliyozoeleka hapa Zanzibar kuwa kila unapoongeza mambo ya Muungano basi upande wa mizani kwa upande wa Zanzibar huwa umepunguzikiwa na upande wa pili wa mizani ambao ni upande wa Jamhuri ya Muungano/Tanzania Bara huwa kumeongezeka uzito. Na hiyo imekuwa ndiyo tafsiri ya "kuimarisha" Muungano. Kama alivyojinasib mwenyewe Mh. Waziri kuwa yeye ni "muumin mahiri" wa Muungano. Pengine anauimarisha kwa umahiri kwa kuchanganya uendeshaji wa mambo yasiyo ya Muungano na kuyaendesha kwa kutokea Dodoma yaliko Makao Makuu ya Nchi.

Utalii kwa Zanzibar ni uti wa mgongo wa uchumi wake. Unachangia takriban asilimia 30 ya pato lake la Taifa baada ya zao la karafuu linalochangia asilimia 45 ya pato la Taifa. Utalii umesababisha uchangamfu wa kiwango kikubwa wa harakati mbalimbali za kiuchumi Zanzibar, zile za moja kwa moja na zile zinazofaidika ikiwa ni taathira/neema ya utalii (multiplier effects). Utalii unachangia kwa kiasi kikubwa sekta ya ajira kwa vijana na wajasiriliamali. Ni wazi kuwa umuhimu wa sekta ya utalii kwa Zanzibar, ambayo haina uchumi wa rasilimali za asili, na ambayo inategemea uchumi wa huduma (Service Economy) ni mkubwa mno tofauti na upande wa Tanzania Bara ambao uchumi wao una vyanzo lukuki.

Pamoja na lugha zote za ulaghai wa kisiasa ambazo mtu angejitumbuiza nazo lakini ukweli wa maumbile ya kibiashara unabaki pale pale kuwa Zanzibar, Kenya na Tanzania Bara kwa ukaribu wao wa kijiografia wanabaki kuwa ni washindani katika soko la utalii.   Iweje leo mshindani wako ndie akufunge ujamu akuingize kwenye zizi lake akunadi sawia na mifugo yake halafu utegemee manufaa. Ni ajabu kuwa mshindani wako umkabidhi jukumu la kukutangazia biashara yako.

Utalii ni suala la kibiashara na kiuchumi. Hapa hakuna nafasi ya siasa chakavu za udugu na umoja. Kwenye maslahi ya kibiashara hata ndugu tena walio mapacha, udugu unaimarika pale tu maslahi ya pande zote yanapotimizwa, vinginevyo ghafla unaweza kuwakuta ndugu mapacha wamefikishana mahkamani!!! Seuze Nchi ambayo uhai wake ni vyanzo vyake vya mapato. Naamini hatujasahau wakati Tanzania Bara ilipozua sokomoko kubwa kupinga "branding" ya utalii wa Kenya walipoweka kaulimbiu ya kitalii isemayo "Visit Kenya, Visit Kilimanjaro" Wakenya waliweka kaulimbiu ile kwa kuzingatia ukaribu wa Nairobi na Mlima wa Kilimanjaro. Kwamba ukifika Kenya ni karibu mno kufika Mlima wa Kilimanjaro (Masafa kutoka Nairobi mpk Kilimanjaro ni Km 206 wakati masafa kutoka Dar mpaka Kilimanjaro ni Km 462 : Dar iko mbali kwa mara mbili na zaidi kuliko Nairobi) Wakati ule T/Bara iliiweka pembeni sera ya "Utangamano" tunaoaminishwa leo, ila Tanzania Bara ilimchachamalia Ndugu yake Kenya mpaka Kenya ikasalim amri.

Mimi ninadhani ingeingia akilini kulitumia jambo lililo la Muungano kwa kujitangaza kwa pamoja. Kwa mfano Shirika la Ndege la Tanzania ni la Muungano. Tungeweka kaulimbiu kuwa "Air Tanzania - The Wings of Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar" badala yake tunaona kaulimbiu maaruf ya "Air Tanzania - The Wings of Kilimanjaro" Shirika la wawili ila linamtangaza mmoja tu!!! Muumin wetu Mahiri wa  Muungano kweli  hajaliona hili???

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Abel Muzorewa was a churchman and politician who for a brief moment in 1979 seemed set to play an important and lasting part in the unfortunate and often violent history of his native Zimbabwe.
But his moment came and went, so that he spent only a few months as prime minister before circumstances changed rapidly. In quick succession he was first propelled into prominence and then into obscurity.
But if his political career brought him little in the way of honour and glory, either at home or abroad, he distinguished himself by resolutely preaching peace during the eras of dictatorships he lived through. He was an advocate of compromise but was ill-suited to the politics of Africa, moving too far and too fast in what was then Rhodesia. In his attempts to make an arrangement with the regime of Ian Smith most of his countrymen decided he had settled for too little, too late, and swept him aside. He was displaced by the government of Robert Mugabe, whose character he forecast with grim prescience: "Any talk of democracy, freedom, and independence will be turned into an impossible dream. This country will find itself wallowing in the dust of poverty, misery, and starvation."
The eldest child of a lay preacher's eight children, Abel Tendekayi Muzorewa was born at Umtali in eastern Rhodesia in 1925. He always said he owed his life to a Swedish nurse who helped deliver him in a mud hut. He explained: "I probably would have been just sand or mud – nothing – if she had not been there, because I was born a premature baby. In those days, with all due respect to my African ancestors, people did not know what to do with a premature baby, except to just put it in a pot and throw it away. But because she was there I was saved."
Encouraged by his father, who was a schoolmaster and a Methodist pastor, Muzorewa became first a schoolteacher and later a lay preacher. He studied at various Methodist colleges in the US, returning to Rhodesia with a string of degrees. He went on to hold a variety of positions, including director of the Christian Youth Movement, before becoming the first African bishop of the United Methodist Church in Central Africa in 1968.
His rise within the church was accompanied by his increasing protests against white rule, which brought him to the attention of the authorities. As a result he was banned from a number of tribal areas. For him, religion and political activity went hand in hand. "If religion just means to go to church and pray, then it is a scandal," he declared. "The gospel is concerned about where a man sleeps, what a man earns, how he is treated by the government."
In the early 1970s he and others formed the United African National Council, which took its place among a number of groups opposed to Ian Smith, who in 1965 had declared Rhodesian independence from Britain. The fact that the UANC was moderate and against violence differentiated it from groups led by Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo: they spoke of armed struggle, Muzorewa of liberation struggle. Part of his prominence at the time was due to the fact that other leaders were imprisoned or in exile.
He, too, went into exile for a time, in Mozambique, receiving a huge and enthusiastic welcome when he returned home for a British-sponsored conference. That was one of a number of initiatives which were either aimed at achieving majority rule or making some advance towards it.
It was in the late 1970s that Muzorewa seized what he thought was a historic opportunity. He reached a deal with Smith for new interim arrangements under which blacks could vote but whites would remain in charge of the civil service and armed forces. In a subsequent election he became prime minister, winning a majority of the black vote. He said of his rivals: "They can say what they like, do what they like. They have brought only suffering. I have brought black rule."
This attempt at a settlement had fundamental flaws, however, since Mugabe and Nkomo were not involved in the talks and boycotted the polls. They remained committed to an armed struggle which claimed thousands of lives, insisting on full majority rule and scorning Muzorewa's idea of transitional arrangements.
The general consensus was that Smith had made concessions as part of a desperate rearguard action, and that Muzorewa had inadvertently become his puppet. Muzorewa was scoffed at as "prime minister by name only." His more militant opponents, calling him a traitor, murdered some of his supporters.
Internationally, meanwhile, the new "Zimbabwe-Rhodesia", as it was called, failed to gain support or even recognition from important countries or at the United Nations. It quickly became clear it would not work.
Within months Britain convened fresh talks in London, this time with Mugabe and Nkomo represented. The Lancaster House agreement, signed in December 1979, provided for black majority rule. When new elections were held Muzorewa won only a couple of seats while Mugabe swept to power with more than 60 per cent of the vote.
Thus began the Mugabe regime which has lasted until the present day; thus also ended the effective political career of Abel Muzorewa. He made a number of half-hearted attempts to stage a comeback but failed. In 1983 Mugabe had him locked up, Muzorewa saying incredulously that it was alleged "that I had an army in Israel, South Africa and other countries." It was the ultimate confirmation of Muzorewa's charge that under Mugabe democracy and freedom would be "turned into an impossible dream."
In his later years the Bishop concentrated on his religious work. He remained an outspoken critic of Mugabe, denouncing his government as "one of the worst around, with corruption, mismanagement of funds and deprivation of the freedoms of speech, assembly and association."
Explaining why he had made his deal with Smith, Muzorewa once said: "I tried to do what Mandela did but we were not understood. I did not believe that we should continue to throw guns at each other, destroying ourselves, black and white. We could talk with the enemy and, in spite of all the criticism against us, I went to talk with Smith. I want to believe that shortened the bloodbath and the armed struggle in Zimbabwe. Really, if I had not cared about the bloodshed, we could have gone on but we stopped the bloodshed through negotiation."
Abel Tendekayi Muzorewa, churchman and politician: born Umtali, Rhodesia 14 April 1925; married 1951 Maggie Chigodora (deceased; three sons, one daughter.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Zimbabwe on the downfall of Mugabe

People gather to demonstrate, with an image of General Constantino Chiwenga. Photo / AP

As he was driven back to his Palace in Harare on Tuesday, surrounded by bodyguards in military fatigues and wearing motorcycle helmets, Robert Mugabe had no reason to suspect that his 37-year rule was about to end.Having been in power since 1980, Mugabe - not to mention Grace, his high-handed, grasping second wife - thought he was invincible. Just days earlier, he beamed with satisfaction at a ceremony to change the name of Zimbabwe's main airport to the Robert Mugabe International Airport.He believed he would be president of the former British colony until he died, and had once proclaimed 'not even God' wanted his murderous reign to end. His wife, meanwhile, had called for a Mugabe family 'dynasty' to run the country forever.But what neither knew that sunny afternoon was that Mugabe's loyal presidential guard had been swapped for military personnel who were in league with his enemies - the very generals who had previously been loyal to the despot since he came to power after the bush war against white rule.The first sign of any trouble was when Mugabe's convoy arrived at his home in a suburb of the capital city, and the men accompanying him arrested the security officers on duty there.The 93-year-old president was then hustled into the house and, a short time later, the man in charge of Zimbabwe's armed forces arrived to break some rather bad news to Mugabe.A protester demanding that President Robert Mugabe stands down carries a placard referring to Mugabe's wife Grace Mugabe. Photo / AP
A fearsome individual known for his volcanic temper, General Constantino Chiwenga is one of the so-called 'Dirty Half Dozen' - six sinister military and intelligence chiefs whose junta has kept Mugabe in office for decades, terrorising opponents and rigging elections.Bluntly, Chiwenga told Mugabe he was under arrest. Without uttering a word, Mugabe promptly collapsed to the floor."He was in shock, and collapsed when he realised what was happening," one coup plotter told me. "He had to be resuscitated and revived. He could not believe what was happening at first."
Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe was reportedly in tears when the coup peaceful coup occurred. Photo / APGrace - with whom the president had begun an affair after spotting her in his typing pool when he was still married to his first wife - was terrified. She was hysterical and burst into tears.According to one who was told about the unfolding events: "She's been in a mess ever since - in tears and mentally gone. She begged to be allowed to fly out to Malaysia [where she has millions in investments]. She thought she would be killed."
After being revived - Mugabe has a history of fainting fits and falling asleep at Cabinet meetings - the president and the general began a tense discussion. By then, dozens of other senior army personnel had arrived at the presidential palace. Realising how perilous his position was, Mugabe made an astonishing bid to save his own political skin - and possibly his life.Incredibly, he promised General Chiwenga he would anoint him the next president if he called off the coup and stood down as the head of the armed forces.In a last desperate throw of the dice to cling to power, he told Chiwenga that he would immediately be appointed Mugabe's vice-president and that he would take over as Zimbabwe's leader when Mugabe eventually dies.Even then, Mugabe, a sly old fox who has long played factions off each other to remain in power, had one condition: that Grace should have a prominent role in a future government. General Chiwenga flatly turned down the offer.
Apart from anything else, it was too late by then. More than 30 army personnel carriers and 21 tanks had earlier in the day moved into key strategic locations. Mugabe loyalists, in the police and military, had been ordered back to barracks 24 hours earlier and prevented from leaving.The truth is that Mugabe had sealed his own fate. His mistake was to bow to pressure from Grace - who wanted to take over as president after his death - to purge her rivals for the crown.
Those on her list of enemies in particular included a man called Emmerson Mnangagwa, a veteran of the bush war and the man who believed it was his destiny to take power.
Known as 'Ngwenya' - or The Crocodile - Mnangagwa was for decades one of Mugabe's closest allies, running his fearsome intelligence wing as well as being in charge of defence, before being appointed vice-president in 2014.
Grace believed Mnangagwa was her only rival for power - and made a decisive move against him last week, stripping him of his vice-presidency, and calling for her rival's demise."A snake is better dealt with by crushing the head," Grace told a political rally less than two weeks ago. Mnangagwa's "head must be crushed. I will personally make sure Mnangagwa is dealt with even if everyone else in the party is scared. I will not be intimidated."
Mugabe and Grace also accused Mnangagwa of using "witchcraft" against them.
But Mrs Mugabe chose the wrong man to fight. An architect of the so-called Gukurahundi massacres in the Eighties, in which more than 20,000 from the Ndebele tribe were brutally slaughtered because of their allegiance to an opposition party, Mnangagwa commands huge support in the army and among war veterans.After his summary sacking a few days ago, fearing he would be arrested or killed by Mugabe loyalists, The Crocodile tried to flee Zimbabwe.
He and his security detail were denied entry to Harare airport, so he could not fly out from there. Mnangagwa and his allies then tried to charter a private jet to arrive from South Africa to pick him up - but Mugabe's authorities denied the craft permission to enter Zimbabwean airspace.
So The Crocodile and his men were forced to drive east and cross into neighbouring Mozambique via old smuggling routes used by bush fighters. From there, he headed to South Africa.In secret conversations with his army comrades, Mnangagwa decided to activate a plan they had mapped out to remove the ageing Mugabe from power.The coup would be carried out in Zimbabwe - but it was made in China.For I can reveal that, after secret telephone discussions with his ally General Chiwenga back in Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa boarded another aircraft - this time headed for Beijing.
He was to be a guest of the Chinese government.
Around the same time, General Chiwenga informed Mugabe he had routine business in China, which has supported Mugabe's regime for years with cash and weapons in return for access to its lucrative diamond mines and other minerals.
He also flew out to Beijing.
So it was that Mnangagwa and Chiwenga discussed their plans with Chinese officials. It's instructive to learn that both men had been trained at China's Nanjing Military School.
The two Zimbabweans had also been the architects of many of the lucrative deals struck between China and Harare, including a multi-billion-pound diamond mining deal, which could have made the country rich, but instead was riddled with rampant corruption, with some £15 billion believed to have been pilfered in one year alone.
In truth, the Chinese do not really care who is in charge of Zimbabwe - as long as their business and strategic interests are taken care of.It is part of China's African-wide strategy of propping up corrupt regimes in return for access to the minerals and oil the Chinese need to supply their vastly expanding economy.
Beijing had long feared that Mugabe's refusal to anoint his successor would mean there could be chaos once he died, threatening their investments which, significantly, include a £100 million new spy college in Harare for Zimbabwe's ruling party.So began a global power play against Mugabe, known as "the Old Man" throughout Zimbabwe. With the Chinese pledging to back the new regime after the coup, both American and Russian intelligence were also told of the plans.
Diplomatic sources claim the Americans were happy for Mugabe to be replaced as long as there was no bloodshed, and a smooth transition to the new regime. (Britain, scandalously, had helped prop up Mugabe for years over fears of instability if he was ousted, having helped to install him in 1980.)
With key global players in agreement, the secret strategy to deal with Mugabe - which The Crocodile was told must appear to the world not to be a coup - was activated.
Military forces were recalled to barracks; a list of prominent Mugabe cronies and their whereabouts was produced.Meanwhile, General Chiwenga flew back from China and held a meeting with Mugabe on Monday night - 24 hours before the military action began. He warned the president that the "purges" against his wife's rivals must end.
Not realising the scale of the threat, Grace, who was present at the meeting, was furious. She told the general that she and her husband would have him fired and replaced as head of the army by the leader of the presidential guard.
Once again, Grace's hectoring aggression only served to spur her enemies to action. So it was that tanks rolled through the streets of Harare this week.
While Mugabe and Grace were placed under house arrest, military units swooped and arrested key loyalists such as Jonathan Moyo, Mugabe's higher education minister, and Ignatius Chombo, his finance chief, who was discovered trying to pack $10 million in banknotes into bags when he was seized.
Along with police chiefs loyal to Mugabe, these men are now being held at secret military detention facilities around the country and face prosecution and long jail terms in some of Zimbabwe's most gruesome penal institutions.
Yet what none of the plotters were prepared for was Mugabe's refusal to step down.The plan was that, having reinstated The Crocodile as his vice-president, he would be compelled to announce his resignation, leaving his rival to take over.
However, during hours of discussions with his captors this week, Mugabe has refused offers to be flown out of the country, or provided with state security and allowed to live quietly in Zimbabwe. But then he is deeply stubborn and still cannot imagine giving up his position or privileges.
Anxious to adhere to China's insistence that there should be no violence, and despite calls by some hardline opponents to kill the president and his wife, the generals have not harmed Mugabe, or Grace, who remains under house arrest with her husband in Harare, in spite of reports that she had fled to neighbouring Namibia."We cannot hold a gun to his head," one military source told me. "As the days have gone by, he has become more and more argumentative. He says what the generals are doing is against the constitution and that they are the ones causing instability. He is getting rather hot-headed."So what now for poor, benighted Zimbabwe, which has gone from being the breadbasket of Africa to an economic basketcase?
Supporters of The Crocodile, who returned to Zimbabwe on Thursday, remain confident they can persuade Mugabe to stand down in the coming days, particularly given the fragile mental state of his wife.Then, if he does stand down, this will be presented as a smooth transition to a new government of national unity.As for Mugabe, his one remaining hope is that other African cronies will step in to save him. Fearing military interventions against their own corrupt regimes, figures such as South Africa's Jacob Zuma and Uganda's Yoweri Museveni have described the coup as unconstitutional, with Zuma sending envoys to meet Mugabe and the "coup leaders" on Thursday.
As part of a complicated, elaborate charade, The Crocodile and his generals even allowed Mugabe out to attend a university graduation ceremony in Harare yesterday - before he was returned to house arrest with Grace.It appears Mugabe was allowed to attend the event to give the appearance at least that he is not the victim of a coup.But by last night, all of the Zimbabwean provinces that once supported Mugabe had called for his resignation, meaning the former president can be recalled to government and compelled to stand down. "The Croc trained as a lawyer," one loyalist told me. "He's smart and wants the military coup to be seen as a political coup."
For the first time in living memory, the new military leaders have given permission for a huge march planned for today in Harare, which is expected to be attended by tens of thousands calling for Mugabe to step down, signalling new freedoms.
Previous attempts at protest have been crushed by Mugabe's police. This is all intended to show the international community that the people of Zimbabwe want Mugabe gone.Fearing outside military intervention, not to mention a fightback from Mugabe loyalists, the military leaders here have set up army road blocks around the country, with searches carried out of all vehicles for weapons or suspected enemies of the new regime.
As part of the attempts to make the coup not appear to be a coup, the military on the streets have been told to win hearts and minds. Whereas Mugabe's police were allowed to extract bribes from motorists, the soldiers I met at more than a dozen roadblocks this week were professional and polite.After years of poverty and brutality under Mugabe's regime, most people here are celebrating his downfall, even though there are fears the new regime will be just as bad, albeit with a new leader."We have got rid of a snake and replaced it with a new snake,' said Gibson Lovemore, a street vendor."But we wanted rid of the old man and need change. This has gone on too long."
As darkness fell on Zimbabwe last night, and thunder and lightning crackled around the capital, the future of the country hung in the balance. But one thing seems clear. The monstrous despot who has ruled with an iron fist for so long is still refusing to give up.