Return to Transcripts main page
Military Takeover in Zimbabwe. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired November 15, 2017 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, a military takeover in Zimbabwe. After 37 years of Robert Mugabe, is this the dawn of a new era for the
country? We're live from the capitol with the latest, plus China sends an envoy to North Korea while the former U.S. defense secretary Ash Carter
urges a serious round of coercive diplomacy.
ASH CARTER, FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I do not believe that some will say that if we just leave the North Koreans alone then
they'll leave us alone. That is not their nature
AMANPOUR: Good evening everyone and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in Ney York. Zimbabwe's military is in control of the
country and 93 year old president Robert Mugabe has been confined to his home. Over almost four decades in power, he slipped from freedom fighter
into authoritarian dictator for life.
With troops on the street, the situation in the capitol Harare now remains extremely tense. Seizing control of state television over night, the
military spokesmen took to the airwaves in the early hours.
MAJOR GENERAL SB MOYO, CHIEF OF STAFF LOGISTICS: We aid you to demand come and limit unnecessary movement. What this moonward fence forces is doing
is to pacify a degenerating political social and economic situation in our country. Which if not addressed, may this out in violent conflict?
AMANPOUR: It all follows weeks of political turmoil and comes one week after Mugabe sacked his vice president who was popular with the military.
Mugabe was never going to leave office democratically or voluntarily. As I saw for myself how fiercely he clung to power when I sat down with him in
an extremely rare interview in 2009.
AMANPOUR: Why is it so difficult to leave power in a reasonable way when you're up instead of waiting until it gets to this stage?
ROBERT MUGABE, PRESIDENT OF ZIMBABWE: Not when - when you don't leave power when imperials dictate vacillates.
AMANPOUR: In a moment, we'll dig into what all of this means, but first our David McKenzie reports from Harari on the tremendous ark of Mugabe's
career, from hero to pariah.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN REPORTER: After nearly four decades in cower, perhaps inevitable that it would come down to this in Zimbabwe. Troops on the
streets and a dramatic preborn military statement saying that this apparent coo wasn't a coo.
MOYO: Comrade Robert Mugabe and his finite of serve and sound and their security is garneted.
MCKENZIE: With these words, it could be the end of an era. Robert Mugabe, seemingly forced aside by his military after trying and apparently failing
to turn his dictatorship into a dynasty. Grooming his wife, nicknamed "Gucci Grace" for her opulent taste to succeed in, a step too far for many
Perhaps now, no more lavish birthday bashes from Mugabe who liked to spend hundreds of thousands on the gatherings while his people languished in
poverty. His legacy is dominated by violence and oppression. And an economic collapse so bad, money became worthless and millions fled. For
many, Robert Mugabe could leave behind a shell of a country.
MUGABE: I, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, so swear that I will -
MCKENZIE: So it's easy to forget that at first, many likened Mugabe to Nelson Mandela. Preaching reconciliation after a brutal liberation
struggle that he helped lead, repairing bonds with the formal Colonel Master Britain, he was even knighted.
A young Zimbabwe became the envy of the continent. Mugabe trained as a teacher presiding over an education revolution and a thriving agricultural
power house. But Mugabe liked to say he had a degree in violent and fro the start, he squashed political percent.
MUGABE: The will get arrested and give baths by the priest.
MCKENZIE: When his power became threatened at the ballot, he sanctioned violent attacks on (written arms) by so called war bits to strengthen his
hand. And he crushed a rising opposition using his hold on stake security. Mugabe was abandoned by the West and his aid, that country never fully
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're all (inaudible) Mugabe's here. And dealing the less, his own people decide to change him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems his military if not his people have finally made that decision for him.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: So we've called Zimbabwe's D.C. embassy and also the U.N. office here in New York. They had nothing to tell us
about the situation. We even called the President office in Harare and someone answered. When we asked how the President is doing, they told us
to call tomorrow and they hung up.
Our David McKenzie is in Harare and joins me now. David there is a mystery around Mugabe's where about, his wife's where about. What do you know
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDANT: Well what we know is that according to the South African President, he spoke to Robert Mugabe by phone is that
Robert Mugabe, the President, and his family they said is under detention of some kind here in the capital Harare. We presume at his residence. Now
we've been through those city streets and you have these heavily armed armored personnel carriers and soldiers at strategic locations.
Already just in the last hour or two in the capital. They said it's not a coo, but this is clearly a defect coo by the military. They're the ones in
charge, and the leader Robert Mugabe who is politics in Zimbabwe is no where to be seen and his future remains very unclear indeed, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Then what about the future of Zimbabwe? Are people by large relieved at this day (inaudible), are they scared, are they worried about
violence. And just on the coo, it's clearly because the government want to get international sort of sanctions because of a coo right? If the meant
to speak to the nation.
MCKENZIE: Well I think you saw some very tight rope walking talk from the military. So you're exactly right. What they're trying to do is say that
this is not a coo in part because they don't want the regional players in Africa to come in. That they would be required to do if it was in military
put, but this is a situation of Robert Mugabe who didn't have any kind of succession plan possibly to eliminate rivals along the way.
And Grace Mugabe the First Lady was clearly making a play to try and be the next leader of this country. So when Robert Mugabe fired the Vice
President early last week it was too much for the stalwarts of the revolution here and for the military, clearly. And they moved in to stop
Not it's unclear what negotiations are going on behind the scenes or possibly an exit of Robert Mugabe or some other plan. The South Africans
have sent in two cabinet members just within the last hour to have discussions with the leadership here. But who exactly is the leadership,
and where is the former Vice President? A lot of unanswered questions tonight, and we're still waiting to hear from the President himself whether
he's a President, and then only it's tough to tell.
AMANPOUR: All right, David we will obviously continue to follow your reporting and this situation. Thanks from Harare. And so it looks like
one of Africa's original freedom fighters has come to the end of his political journey. Joining me now is Moeletsi Mbeki he's the Deputy
Chairman of the South African Institute of International Affairs, and he's joining me from London.
So, Mr. Mbeki from your perspective as a South African who's been monitoring these situations over the years, what do you think has happened
and why? Beyond the obvious that the armies taken over, why?
MOELETSI MBEKI, DEPUTY CHAIRMAN SOTUH AFRICAN INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: Well the reason the army has taken is that Mugabe's removal of
the Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa threatened to create a false line of conflict amongst the dominant tribe in Zimbabwe which is called the Shona
people, which is the tribe which Mugabe comes from.
Now this particular tribe has a number plans within it, and the firing of one of the prominent members of one of those clans could trigger conflict
between that clan and the next clan which is Mugabe's clan. That is really at the bottom of why the military has decided to intervene.
AMANPOUR: All right, OK so in order to try to stop some kind of armed conflict, do you think this military maneuver is going to lead the country
back towards a Democratic path or is this just Authoritarianism in a different uniform?
MBEKI: Well the military Zimbabwe has been working very closely with Mugabe in suppressing all the position to his rules, starting in the
1980's, where thousands of (Namibia) support in a different - party from Mugabe was slaughtered. The Catholic Church put an estimate of 20 thousand
The Army has also been working with Mugabe to rig the election in the 2000's. So, it has been very instrumental in oppressing a position.
Whether it has been converted to democracy, I think, remains to be seen.
AMANPOUR: Yes, there is, obviously, so many unanswered questions at this hour. But you are the brother of formal President Thabo Mbeki and I say
that because he spends a lot of his time in office trying to moderate Mugabe, trying to mediate between him and the rest of the world and the
rest of the region. Does South Africa have any leverage? Is there anything that can be done on that political front, with the (invoice) that
has been sent as you heard by (David McKenzie).
MBEKI: Well, South Africa has very little leverage over Zimbabwe, certainly over (Zinopiaf). All the efforts that South Africa and my
brother spent on trying to normalize democracy in Zimbabwe actually came to nothing. There was brief period which they, Mugabe used to rebuild his
power and started action against opposition.
MBEKI: So, South Africa has very little leverage over Zimbabwe.
AMANPOUR: So finally, what will it take to emerge, in a good way, from this situation? The whole world and presumably much is in (Zimbabwe),
couldn't wait to see the back of Mugabe. He was never going to go voluntarily. What is the system, the political constitutional system, as
where by, a different future could be built?
MBEKI: Well, the only way to build a different future for most African countries and Zimbabwe amongst them, (Gwinalia), another one. It's a whole
free and fair election, where you have operating multi-party system.
And it's even less that in that it will never bring stability in Africa, because we are multi-ethnic society, multi-tribal society. The only way
they can live peacefully is when every member of these various tribes feels that they are getting fair treatment. It's only under a proper democratic
system, that all the tribal groups can live together and feel that they are receiving fair treatment.
AMANPOUR: All right. Well, Moeletsi Mbeki, thank you so much for joining me from London.
And, as we heard, the military is calling for calm and when we come back, my interview with the Former U.S. Defense Secretary, Ash Carter.
Stability in Africa is very much the U.S. vital interest but so to, is ability in Asia.
His take away from Trump Asia tour. That's next.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. President Trump is back from his marathon twelve day tour of Asia and today, China announced it is sending a
high level (envoy) to North Korea for the first official visit in two years.
Trump had called on China to exert more pressure on (Pyongyang). Ash Carter was Defense Secretary under Obama, and even before that, had an
extensive experience dealing with North Korea and the whole Asia Pacific region. I've been asking him about Trump's trip and whether he managed to
move the dial on getting China to exert it's leverage.
ASH CARTER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: These meeting particularly with there months between US Presidents and Chinese leaders tend to be largely
ceremonial and that was really the case here, I think both just wanted to get through the meeting in with a picture on congeniality.
I mean that said, I think we have serious issues with China and that is a big challenge and that is why I think the economic and the trade issues are
strategic for the United States. And I know that we have abandoned the so called DPT but it's easier to take something apart than it is to put
something back together again.
AMANPOUR: So a lot of people are looking at what China means for raining in on some how neutralizing the threat from North Korea first. Is it a
major threat? Do you expect North Korea to make some kind of unacceptable provocation, so kind of miscalculation? And how do you think this
situation can be resolved?
CARTER: North Korea is very unpredictable. It is a very strange place, I've been there, I've dealt with North Korea on and off for about 25 years
now and I do not believe as some will say that if we just leave the North Koreans alone that they'll leave us alone. That is not their nature.
Therefore, I think that in addition to deterrence and defense, which has to come first, and we have 28,500 troupes on the Korean peninsula. We have
missile defense, and we have other things, steps we've taken to protect ourselves if the worse comes and certainly to win a war, which I confident
we would do. Although it is really a very gruesome prospect, but at the same time, we have to pursue I called cohesive diplomacy which mixes the
military and the diplomatic.
There China has important leverage where we don't. Where you say to North Korea, don't test another missile. If you do, here is what's going to
happen to you. If you don't, here is what can be done for you.
AMANPOUR: So South Korea and the major national security advisors of the President told me that he wished that the Obama administration had paid
even a fraction of the attention that it paid to Iran to North Korea nuclear program. Did you miss an opportunity there?
CARTER: Well, we have on and off now missed opportunities with North Korea since the 1990's. We never stuck with it long enough really to put it to
AMANPOUR: --So do you think the Obama administration was wrong not to stick with it like it did with Iran? Or can you not walk and talk and chew
gum at the same time?- CARTER: --I do, I do think. It's hard to do that. I think the Obama administration could have done more. I think what was important, and was
done, and this was my responsibility is in the area of deterrence and defense, we are concerned that North Korea will obtain the capability to
put a nuclear war head on top of a missile that can reach the United States. We knew that was a possibility six/seven years ago. That's why we
built the missile defenses that are in Alaska and California. Now that was controversial at the time so people said we should do it, it's a waste of
money and that the threat wasn't there. But in my mind, and I was in the Department of Defense at that time.-
AMANPOUR: --And you're a physicist.
CARTER: --Yes, we needed to stay a step ahead of what might happen, so in the sense of deterrence and defense, I think we have well prepared
ourselves. But, going back now as I said 25 years, I don't think we've ever really given a sustained try to, well I (of course)(ph) of diplomacy.
And by the way, also during that time period, China has consistently failed to use it's leverage. We're not going to give North Korea anything and
we're not in the frame of mind of much of the way of rewards. We obviously can punish, but it's china that can actually give them something and that's
an important part of the mix here so.-
AMANPOUR: --So you wouldn't give for instance, a formal peace treaty, a formal end to the war? A realignment maybe or the US forces in the
CARTER: --Maybe down the line. I think we have to take some steps first. We have to, they have to not test anymore. (ph)Down the road if North
Korea takes all those steps, you can imagine a circumstance where we put an end to the war. (ph) of 1953 and say, look we'll just keep on keeping on
here. You run your little Disney Land in your own way and we'll get off your back. But we can't do that if they have nuclear weapons and ballistic
missiles capable of attacking us.
AMANPOUR: There is some fear amongst Democrats amongst apparently NATO allies, among some Republicans that there is too much loose talk of the
possibility of using nuclear weapons, not just by Kim Jong-Un, but by the United States as well. And you've probably heard the fears that President
Trump is solely in charge of launching and the codes et cetera. Senator Murphy just recently said the following.
MURPHY: We are concerned that the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic
that he might order a nuclear weapon strike that is wildly out of step with U.S. national security interests.
AMANPOUR: What is your reaction to that and do you sense a desire to change the launch code process?
CARTER: First of all I think we always have to remember the use of nuclear weapons is the gravest responsibility that our government can possibly have
and no, we shouldn't speak loosely of nuclear weapons. First of all we're a long way from that point with respect to North Korea.
AMANPOUR: Can you give anybody any comfort?
CARTER: Well I think this -- the way it is set up, it is a deliberative process that involves the secretary of defense, the principle advisor to
the president on these matters, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and others in the chain of command, but also the secretary of state, the
national security advisor, the director of national intelligence, the director of CIA; that's the way it's set up and there's a discussion and
there's an exploration of all the options. Something so.
AMANPOUR: So there's no Dr. Strangelove.
AMANPOUR:.pressing the button?
CARTER:.people have this idea that there's a button -- there is a process, a consultative process and I -- that is the way things always work; that's
the way they're set up to work and I think even in this administration, which I am not part of so I can't speak for it and I don't -- I can't
honestly tell you I understand its workings in an entirety, but I do know that that process is in place.
AMANPOUR: Well I think that'll be a great comfort to people who hear you say that. And then the second part of our interview later this week,
Carter says America needs to catch up to Russia and China on the cyber war front. Still to come tonight, we imagine how Robert Mugabe built Zimbabwe
out of hope and freedom only to dash it onto the rocks of despair.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, Robert Mugabe turned out to be president for life, give or take a few years, now that the military has intervened so
decisively. It can be hard to imagine how the freedom fighter of the 70's and the 80's became a ruthless authoritarian. I had a rare chance to sit
across from him in 2009 and I asked how he justified the collapse of Zimbabwe under his iron grip.
MUGABE: I will never, never, never, never surrender. Zimbabwe is mine. I am Zimbabwean (ph). Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans. Zimbabwe never for the
British. Britain for the British.
AMANPOUR: Is that just political rally rhetoric or do did you mean that? What did you mean?
MUGABE: That Zimbabwe belongs to Zimbabweans.
AMANPOUR: Right. Since you took over, life expectancy has dropped. Manufacturing has fallen.
MUGABE: But I'm just telling -
AMANPOUR: One in 14 people are malnourished.
MUGABE: I'm just telling you the reasons. It's because of sanctions, mainly.
AMANPOUR: But, everybody says it's not because of sanctions. It's because of --
MUGABE: Not everybody says so.
AMANPOUR: Most people do. Most independent observers say that.
MUGABE: In Zimbabwe it's not true.
AMANPOUR: I would like to play one sound bite by a neighbor of yours. A Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu who said the following.
DESMOND TUTU, NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER: He's destroyed a wonderful country, a country that used to be a breadbasket. It has now become a
basket case itself. But I think now, I mean, that the world must say look you have been responsible with your coverts, you've been responsible for
gross violations and you are going to face indictment in the head (ph) unless you step down.
AMANPOUR: How do you respond to that? First that you've taken the breadbasket of Africa into a basket case.
MUGABE: No, Zimbabwe not a basket case at all.
AMANPOUR: Why is it so difficult to leave power in a reasonable way when you're up instead of waiting until it gets to this stage?
MUGABE: When you don't leave power when imperialistic dictate you leave.
AMANPOUR: Are you afraid, as some have suggested, that one day you might be indicted by the International Criminal Court?
MUGABE: No, I don't care about that, the International - whatever they decide is entirely their own fair - their own affair. I'm concerned about
Zimbabwe. And, I'm concerned about the lives of the people of Zimbabwe. And, don't forget it was my party which brought democracy into the country
and then British, we had to fight the British for democracy for one man, one person, one vote.
AMANPOUR: Robert Mugabe nearly 10 years ago. Tonight his fate is still in the hands of his military. That is it for our program tonight. Remember
you can listen to our podcast, see us online at amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching and good bye from New York.