In interviews this week, high ranking diplomatic sources in the capital and South Africa, said Mnangagwa is unlikely to get away with murder the third time around, following the shock military shootings in August 2018 and just two months ago, that have left a swathe of terror and at least 17 extrajudicial killings, 16 rapes, 26 abductions and more than 600 assaults, according to the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.
The envoys said although the UN has no standing peacekeeping force ready to be deployed, one Western powerhouse (name supplied) said to be “sympathetic with the people of Zimbabwe” and appalled by Harare’s worsening violation of human rights “together with the increased militarisation of government”, is reportedly willing to take up the mission and is working on asking the Security Council to approve the intervention of the multinational force operating under Chapter VII authority.
Chapter VII of the United Nation’s Charter sets out the UN Security Council’s powers to maintain peace.
It also allows the Council to “determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression” and to take military and nonmilitary action to “restore international peace and security”.
Chapter VII also gives the Military Staff Committee responsibility for strategic coordination of forces placed at the disposal of the UN Security Council. It is made up of the chiefs of staff of the five permanent members of the Council.
The disclosures, certain to send political shivers running down the spine of the ruling Zanu PF party, come at a time when the United States of America through its embassy in Harare has issued a severe warning to Mnangagwa over the arrest and harassment of civil society leaders.
Mnangagwa without naming a particular country, has blamed the West for attempting to foment regime change, through the funding of local NGOs and the opposition MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa. Political actors in his government have said that, they’re aware of a plot by the opposition to make the country choatic and ungovernable, as a pretext to drag Harare on the Security Council agenda, with the goal of toppling Mnangagwa from his young presidency.
“Zimbabwe is a very important country, and is not as small as you think,” said one envoy based in Pretoria once posted to Harare. “She does influence the West’s foreign policy on Africa in many ways. A certain powerhouse is not happy with the current leader (Mnangagwa), and how he is using the security forces machinery to consolidate power and militarise your country’s institutions. I’m talking about a Western capital with the people of Zimbabwe at heart, which is appalled by the ongoing and worsening human rights violations. Foreign affairs officials in that government are working to ask the Council to approve a multinational force intervention in Harare should things extremely get out of control, and another redline is crossed by a brutal military crackdown on unarmed civilians.”
Another diplomat in the capital yesterday said it was highly unlikely that Zimbabwe will desecend into civil war, but there was grave concern of a mini genocide taking place, thus “premptive measures are being considered behind closed doors” to deter a bloodbath during future mass protests, with at least one foreign power willing to take the lead in the assemble of the Council force on Zimbabwe.
“Obviously at the top level (Mnangagwa’s government), they have intelligence on the matter,” said the diplomat. “That’s why there’s a cosmetic attempt to reform and rearrange the leadership of the army, by retiring and reassigning senior generals. A few weeks ago the leadership here was warned by the South African and Rwanda presidents to desist from using military force on protesters, because it will be difficult to defend their actions before the UN Security Coucil. This president’s lucky charm could be your neighbour, South Africa, which started off the New Year by officially assuming its seat as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the period 2019-2020.”
Zimbabwe’s permanent representative to the United Nations in New York, Frederick Shava, could not be reached for comment, as his office had not responded to our enquiry since Monday. Inversely, the UN resident coordinator’s office in Zimbabwe, also had not answered to our electronic communications by the time of sending this publication to bed last night.
The Security Council Chapter VII authority model was used for East Timor in 1999. The Council authorized an Australian-led multinational force, which transitioned into a standard UN peacekeeping mission that helped prepare for East Timor’s elections and independence.
In 2008 prior to the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU) with former leader, Robert Mugabe, the late prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai writing in the Guardian newspaper, extolled the international community to intervene in Zimbabwe, after security chiefs denied him power and engineered Mugabe’s violent re-election.
“We need a force to protect the people. We do not want armed conflict, but the people of Zimbabwe need the words of indignation from global leaders to be backed by the moral rectitude of military force. Such a force would be in the role of peacekeepers, not trouble-makers. They would separate the people from their oppressors and cast the protective shield around the democratic process for which Zimbabwe yearn. Intervention is a loaded concept in today’s world, of course. Yet, despite the difficulties inherent in certain high-profile interventions, decisions not to intervene have created similarly dire consequences. The battle in Zimbabwe today is a battle between democracy and dictatorship, justice and injustice, right and wrong. It is one in which the international community must become more than a moral participant. It must become mobilised,” Tsvangirai wrote.
This is not the first time that foreign intervention has been sought in Zimbabwe. In 2013, former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, claimed that his country was asked to help Britain topple Mugabe. Mbeki, who served as president from 1999 until 2008, said former British PM Tony Blair, wanted Mugabe removed by force if necessary, while Mbeki favoured a negotiated settlement.