Military Coups and Revolutionary Tactics: 5) Can the Coup in Zimbabwe be compared with the Egypt Coup?




Let us briefly deal with an example of such a confusion which arises if one does not carefully distinguish the different types of military coups as we outlined it above. The comrades of the South African “Workers International Vanguard League” committed, in our opinion, such a mistake. In their statement on the coup in Zimbabwe, which contains a number of correct conclusions, they also draw “some parallels with the coup in Egypt when General Sisi deposed elected leader, Morsi. The Generals played on the inability of the democratic regime to meet the needs of the masses. They posed as the friends of the masses. Gradually they cemented their control, declared a state of emergency and brutally suppressed the masses, thousands were imprisoned and many killed. Once they had consolidated their grip they lifted the charges against the deposed dictator, Mubarak and rolled back many of the gains of the Tahrir square uprising.” [1]


Here is not the place to repeat our detailed analyses of the coups in Egypt in 2013 and in Zimbabwe in 2017 which can be read in the numerous documents which we have produced about these events. It is sufficient to remark that hundreds of thousands of people marched on the streets, occupied central places and faced the most brutal repression in defending the Morsi government against the coup plotters – a government which was elected in the freest bourgeois parliamentary election the country has ever seen. This repression resulted in the killing of thousands of demonstrators and the arrest of tens of thousands of people. More than 1.000 protestors were murdered shortly after the coup on a single day, the 14 August 2013, on Rabaa Square and al-Nahda Square in Cairo – "one of the world's largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history" (Human Rights Watch)!


Compare this with Zimbabwe: not a single demonstration in defense of Mugabe took place – neither during the time of the coup nor since then!


The Egypt coup took place against the background of fundamental clashes between the classes which were reflected in numerous mass demonstrations. The coup in Zimbabwe was an internal affair inside the ruling elite which found expression in a faction struggle inside the ZANU-PF government party.


Consequently, Mohammed Morsi has been in prison since the coup and faces the death penalty. Mugabe and his family, on the other hand, were guaranteed immunity and could retain their multi-million dollar wealth.


Let us repeat, in conclusion, that it is obligatory for any Marxist analysis to separate the primary factors from the secondary and “to assess, above all, the general direction of the development” – to put it in the words of Abram Deborin. [2] Such a concrete and correct assessment is crucial for Marxists since without it they are doomed to lack an orientation and to fail in developing the necessary revolutionary tactics.


We hope that this short essay will serve as a contribution for revolutionaries to develop a correct approach to different situations of coups in future class struggles.




[2] Abram Deborin: Lenin als revolutionärer Dialektiker (1925); in: Unter dem Banner des Marxismus, 1. Jahrgang (1925-26), p. 224 (our translation)