Zimbabwe crisis: Soldiers 'take over broadcaster ZBC'

15 November, 2017, 11:43 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • Military on the move Yesterday the head of the armed forces Constantino Chiwenga openly threatened to intervene in politics if Mugabe did not stop removing veterans from government

Zimbabwe's military says it has launched an operation to "target criminals" around President Robert Mugabe, but insisted that the 93-year-old president and his family are safe. A Harare resident told AFP that gunfire erupted near President Robert Mugabe's private residence in Borrowdale in Harare in the early hours of Wednesday.

The Zimbabwean ambassador to South Africa, Isaac Moyo, had told Reuters that the government was "intact" and dismissed any talk of a possible coup as "just social media claims".

In the army's overnight broadcast, the spokesman, Gen. Sibusiso Moyo, said the military expected "normalcy" to return as soon as the army had completed its "mission".

ZANU-PF said Chiwenga's stance was "clearly calculated to disturb national peace. and suggests treasonable conduct on his part as this was meant to incite insurrection". Soldiers indeed have the president and his presidential guard under siege.

A U.S. embassy spokesman in Zimbabwe said the embassy would be minimally staffed and closed to the public on Wednesday.

While military vehicle movement there is routine, the timing heightened unease that for the first time is seeing an open rift between the military and Mugabe.

A long-running political struggle over who will succeed Mugabe, who has been in power since the country gained independence from Britain in 1980, has been slowly escalating.

The US embassy in Harare tweeted that it would be closed on Wednesday "due to ongoing uncertainty".

Later Wednesday, ruling the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) made a series of announcements on Twitter confirming Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was sacked as vice president last week, as interim party leader and de facto president. While he is respected by many in southern Africa, the president has also come under fire for what critics have described as his despotic rule and severe human rights abuses.

It's looking increasingly likely Robert Mugabe will indeed be ousted from power in the near future, and he's getting Grace Mugabe out of Zimbabwe.

Mugabe fired Vice President Emerson Mnangagwa last week.

Grace Mugabe's rise has brought her into conflict with the independence-era war veterans, who once enjoyed a privileged role in the ruling party under Mugabe, but who have in recent years been banished from senior government and party roles.

Mnangagwa, who had fled into exile, has vowed to return and launched a direct challenge to Mugabe by calling for members of the ruling Zanu-PF party to desert the President.

The youth wing is a strong supporter of Grace Mugabe.

In an address to the nation, an army spokesman said the military is targeting "criminals" around Mugabe, and sought to reassure the country that order will be restored.

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