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The Economic Factors of Military Coups

09 Nov 2019 at 07:36hrs | Views
There has been rumours of coup in Zimbabwe. Most people are so worried and industry have down sized after rumours have gone wild. Despite the difficulties Zimbabwe is not ready for another coup.

In this era of deliberate and increasing economic and political progress, it is fascinating that the coups d'état, the scourge of mid-twentieth century development, is still making its presence felt. Zimbabweans have debated the factors that cause a nation's armed forces to overstep their official role as protector of national territorial integrity and seize power.

After the 2017 coup which was not a coup Zimbabweans always expect the repeat of 2017. However a coup in any name is triggered by serious triggers which are beyond economical meltdown. One school of thought in Zimbabwe relates the risk and occurrence of coup that was not a coup to the state of the national economy and the military's stake therein. Based largely on the experiences of Zimbabwe such economic theories have seldom been applied to Our country and never to any imagination on Zimbabwean mind.

Zimbabwe makes for a very interesting case study, as there has been no empirical analysis of a coup theory despite its experiencing a coup d'état, at least some failed coup attempts, and 37 years of direct one man rule since independence in 1980. Zimbabwe's coup d'état which was not a coup has often been attributed to political and institutional factors, but the role of the economy and economic factors has to date never been tested on the Zimbabwean experience.

The exclusion of economic factors as a motivation for Zimbabwe's military coup implies that academics have either overlooked the role of the economy in the context of Zimbabwean politics, or that economic factors really do not have any role in motivating Zimbabwe's coup d'état which was not a coup and were thus justly excluded. It is argued that poor economic conditions are indeed linked with, and may have had a motivating role in, coups in other countries but it has never been a factor in Zimbabwe. The economic conditions in Zimbabwe now do not have the power or reason to trigger a coup. Zimbabweans have grown to be used to the status quo and do not find any reason to rebel.

The result was that ‘in the attempt to construct a permanent but personal power base, Mugabe had undermined all attempts at nation building, had ruined the economy, and had aggravated tribal rivalries. The political instability of Mugabe's wife lifestyle, gave General Chiwenga the legitimacy needed to mount a coup d'état which was not a coup. The official and hypothesised reasons for Zimbabwe's coup d'état or operation restore legacy are varied and complex. It should be noted that a ‘coup d'état' refers not to any takeover of the state but to a successful and overt seizure of power by the military so there must be an analytical distinction for the term to have any usefulness. The distinction between successful and unsuccessful coups must be drawn since it is often difficult to know whether an unsuccessful coup conspiracy ever existed. Because the coup attempt was put down or prevented before it picked up any momentum, a ‘conspiracy' may refer to anything from a half-hearted discussion between a few officers to an actual plot. The significant attention bestowed upon this phenomenon is most likely a reflection of the notion that repeated coups d'état can permanently and negatively impact a nation's prospects for development.

There are many approaches to explaining the occurrences of military coups, these can be placed into four non-mutually exclusive categories: the vulnerability or loss of legitimacy of the civilian regime; the internal dynamics of the military; international trends. While it is important as it implies that the coup must be intended, deliberate and involve a transfer of power there was only a grabbing of power from one person and handing it over to his deputy.

However, even the military's internal intrigues and interests do not exist in a controlled vacuum. Rather, these are impacted by factors such as national security, institutional interests and governmental competence, and are moreover inevitably set against an economic context. For this reason, the economic context of military coups must be taken into account but not seriously in the case of Zimbabwe.

It should be noted that military coups occur because of a given context; that is, the military will plan and launch a coup not only because of internal fissures or interests but because of a wider socioeconomic or political situation in a given country. It is this context that perhaps marks the difference between an attempted and a successful coup. More importantly, it suggests that certain factors, such as a weak economy, may predispose a nation to vulnerability to military coups d'état. But there will be no military coup simply because it is November.

Military coups are not done as a commemoration so the excitement that there was a coup in November so we should expect one in itself a fallacy. What normally causes a coup is when it is perceived that the civilian government to be illegitimate, encroaching on military prerogatives, or governing poorly. One branch of coup theory that has widely been ignored concerns the economic aspects of instability and coup risk. This is a serious misgiving thought given that an ailing economy is often a main cause or precondition of political instability and loss of political legitimacy, no matter how people will declare Zimbabwe poorly governed this will never tickle the army to a coup.

The military, the economy and coups d'état do not always mix. Although there is much disagreement among scholars on specific points, there has been some consensus that poor economic performance increases coup risk in a given state it is just a risk. The danger of fixating on the military's economic self interest as the main cause of coups d'état is that it may be oversimplified and trivialised into a ‘greed versus grievance' debate.

Now the rumours doing rounds that the army is preparing for a coup is a mischievous wishful thinking. The idea of spreading the rumour of a coup in Zimbabwe is satanic and surely diabolic. The rumours are well calculated as to divide the government and the army. It is a sick joke meant to bring distrust between the army and the government.

The rumours of a coup plays a very destructive role in our economy. And it is calculated to undermine peace and tranquillity which we have enjoyed for decades. There will be no coup and the factors raised above do not fit the shoe.

Zimbabweans must resist the unpatriotic people who shed and send false news. Zimbabwe united must never be defeated.

Vazet2000@yahoo.co.uk.

Source - Dr Masimba Mavaza
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