KAMLOOPS — A Kamloops man running to succeed Robert Mugabe as president of Zimbabwe says the military's removal of Mugabe doesn't represent the kind of change the country needs.
A Zimbabwean military spokesman says this week's action is not a coup, and things will "return to normal" soon, once other high-ranking military officials have been detained.
It's believed the 93 year old Mugabe was beginning to clear the way for his wife to take power.
Dr. Richard Kanyangu has spent most of 2017 at his home in Kamloops, co-ordinating his presidential campaign carrying the United Party of Zimbabwe banner.
Watching events unfold an ocean away, Kanyangu says Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party needed to go - but not like this.
"They have said it's not a coup, but when you look at it, it bears all the hallmarks of a coup except the fact that they have not killed the president or said that he is not president anymore," said Kanyangu. "But by locking him in the house, it means he has no powers to do anything anymore, so effectively it is what it is."
"This whole manouver by the army just benefits a small population of Zimbabweans: the same people who are on the top of the chain. So it's just shifting chairs on the Titanic. You're not really resolving the problem.
"Zimbabwe needs a change that is totally divorced from the Zanu-PF ideologies, a change that brings in a new face that allows international trade, that allows people to feel that they can vote freely, that allows people to actually go and work."
In western democracies, it's commonly felt that getting a campaign's message out on the ground is the most successful election strategy.
But Kanyangu says he's found it more effective to communicate to Zimbabwean people and the international community from Canada.
"The argument for us to be on the ground in Harare really doesn't give us any benefit. We are actually more able to communicate freely with people here. We are more able to communicate with international partners out here. We are able to have dialogue with people who are going to help us rebuild the country," said Kanyangu.
"It's been a challenge, but we definitely didn't see (Mugabe's house arrest) coming until a month or three weeks ago, when it became very apparent that the president was working his way to creating a pathway for his wife to become the next president."
Kanyangu says it's discouraging for his electoral chances to see the military pick and choose who it wants in power, but the silver lining is the attention this military action is drawing from around the world.
"What I'm hoping and what we're trying to do by engaging with the media across the world is to actually make sure that, at this juncture with this open window, the international community actually comes in and says, 'In this coming election, there has to be a mandate that is given to whoever is going to be the leader to create a platform that is going to deliver a free and fair election.'"
"If there is a free and fair election, then our chances of winning that election are 90 per cent higher than anyone who is in the country because, for all the people who are there, the corruption is embedded in their lives. Zimbabwe needs a new lease on life; it doesn't need the same old same old."
Kanyangu says he plans to return to Zimbabwe next month, though the current climate has thrown all future electoral activities up in the air.
Constitutionally, the country's election is supposed to take place before July, 2018.
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