Zimbabwe Crisis: Army In Charge But Denies Coup
Zimbabwe’s military has seized state TV, saying it is targeting people close to President Robert Mugabe for causing “social and economic suffering”.
Heavy gunfire and artillery were heard in northern suburbs of the capital, Harare, early on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe’s envoy to South Africa, Isaac Moyo, earlier dismissed talk of a coup, saying the government was “intact.”
The army action comes after Mr Mugabe sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, amid a row over succession.
Military officers read an address live on state TV, saying President Robert Mugabe was “safe” and his “security is guaranteed”.
Zimbabwe has just experienced its first coup. This type is called a guardian coup but whatever name it’s a coup. pic.twitter.com/HdwRInxeci
— Chipo Dendere, PhD (@drDendere) November 15, 2017
“It is not a military takeover of government,” an army spokesman said in a televised statement. “We wish to assure the nation that his excellency the president… and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed.
“We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice.
“As soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”
Other key points of the statement included:
- Citizens should remain calm and limit unnecessary movement
- The military assures the Zimbabwean judiciary that its independence is guaranteed
- Security services should “co-operate for the good of our country” and any provocation would “be met with an appropriate response”
- All leave for the defence forces is cancelled and personnel should return to barracks immediately
It is not clear who is leading the military action. Army chief Gen Constantino Chiwenga, of inciting insurrection. Gen Chiwenga had said the army was prepared to act to end purges within the ruling Zanu-PF party.
Mr Mugabe, 93, has dominated the impoverished country’s political scene since independence from the UK in 1980.