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Innocent Madawo is a former Zimbabwean journalist based in Edmonton.

What happened in Zimbabwe? Did the military stage a coup or did they not?

Trying to answer this question is tricky. Conventionally, when the military roll into the capital, surround all key installations, confine the leader in his home, arrest the leader's acolytes and, more poignantly, take over the state broadcaster – that is a coup.

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But don't suggest that to General Constantine Chiwenga and his men. They have preferred to call it a "bloodless correction," arguing vehemently that it's not a coup. So, what is it?

The answer is a long-winded explanation. It starts with understanding President Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF's communist-like one-party-state approach to ruling Zimbabwe with the national constitution subordinated to that of the so-called liberation party – emphasis on the liberation credentials.

As far as ZANU-PF is concerned, the state and all its branches, including the military, are extensions of the party and must be led by individuals with ZANU-PF-approved liberation credentials. This is why, throughout all the political upheavals of the past two decades, the military has not intervened until now.

It is important to understand that – although there is potential for national emancipation – this intervention has nothing to do with a national constitutional crisis or Mr. Mugabe's misrule of Zimbabwe for many years.

It has everything to do with one Grace Mugabe daring to ascend into the leadership of ZANU-PF without liberation credentials. And worse, to do so with the support of other individuals who never fought for liberation, such as former information minister Jonathan Moyo.

It should be recalled that in previous elections where Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was poised to win, the same military leaders vowed never to salute anyone without liberation credentials. Well, they meant it and they meant anyone, even the 93-year-old Mr. Mugabe's wife, who made it easy for them by insulting and engineering the expulsion of former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, the military's choice to replace Mr. Mugabe.

It is also worth remembering that these same generals have propped up Mr. Mugabe over the years and were prepared to see him through the general election next year and until he either died in office or he voluntarily gave up power. They were prepared to endure Ms. Mugabe's insults as long as she was out of the power structure until the unthinkable happened – Mr. Mugabe, clearly out of touch with his own party power centres, fired Mr. Mnangagwa, paving the way for his wife to take over as vice-president for both the party and the state.

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No one in ZANU-PF leadership, including the generals, has clean hands as far as the economic ruination of Zimbabwe is concerned. All of them benefited from looted farms, diamond mining and widespread economic mismanagement.

But the issue is not that they feared Ms. Mugabe would take away their ill-gotten wealth or prosecute them. She is in it too deep herself. The fear was that if ZANU-PF went into the next election with Ms. Mugabe as vice-president, her unpopularity would weaken the ruling party's chances to the extent that not even vote-rigging or violence would prevent the opposition from winning.

An opposition win is what the generals fear most because Mr. Tsvangirai and other opposition leaders have always vowed to investigate and prosecute those who committed atrocities against Zimbabweans and looted the national economy over the past four decades, and that includes most senior military leaders.

So, what is going to happen now? Either of two scenarios. The first scenario is that Mr. Mugabe resigns immediately and Mr. Mnangagwa is promptly reinstated into ZANU-PF and is subsequently elevated to president of the party and state.

The second scenario is that Mr. Mnangagwa gets reinstated as vice-president and goes on to support Mr. Mugabe's re-election at the ZANU-PF special congress in December with a promise that Mr. Mugabe resigns soon after and transfers power to Mr. Mnangagwa.

They will call it stability before democracy and the people will embrace it because the attitude in Zimbabwe right now is "anything but Grace Mugabe."

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