To understand the coup in Zimbabwe, you need to know more about Grace Mugabe

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace chant the party’s slogan during a solidarity rally in Harare on Nov. 8. (AP)

In Zimbabwe, the military has taken control of the capital Harare, with tanks and troops stationed around the city. Its army generals officially announced around 4 a.m. local time on Wednesday that President Robert Mugabe and his family “are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed.”

While Gen. Constantine Chiwenga insists it is not a military takeover, “safe and secure,” for those of us who study African politics, is also code for secured. This effectively means that the first family is now under some type of arrest and those closest to first lady Grace Mugabe, who until the takeover appeared to be in charge in the ruling party, have been arrested for attempting to recolonize the country and undermining the revolution.

This type of coup is called a “guardian coup.” The army, at least for now, claims that it has no intention of staying in power longer than is needed to restore order. It remains unclear what “restoring order” means.

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