After allegedly staging a “coup” against President Robert Mugabe by seizing the country’s national broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), the Zimbabwean military read out a statement Wednesday morning.
The statement, read by a Major General SB Moyo, assured Zimbabweans that the seizure was not “a military takeover of government”. Rather, the army is only “targeting criminals” around Mugabe, who “were committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country”.
“As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy,” the military said in its statement.
The statement added that Mugabe, 93, the world’s oldest leader, and his family, were “safe and sound and their security is guaranteed”.
In the past 48 hours, some international media outlets have reported armoured vehicles heading for strategic installations in the capital Harare, including Mugabe’s residence.
The movements, widely reported as part of a full-scale coup against the Mugabe regime, followed a warning issued by General Constantino Chiwenga on Monday. The general warned Mugabe against “purging” Zanu-PF members aligned with ousted vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa. Chiwenga, the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, also expressed concern that the purge “clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background”.
The military top brass has always maintained that it will not salute a leader without a background in the country’s 60s and 70s armed struggle against the racist white colonial regime of Ian Smith.
While the military’s objectives remain unclear, it appears members of Zanu PF’s G40 faction, which is aligned with Grace Mugabe and mostly made up of individuals without a liberation war history, will be targeted.
“We must remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that when it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in,” Chiwenga said in his address on Monday.
Chiwenga’s warning followed Mugabe’s sacking of the now exiled Mnangagwa last week. Before the military intervention, some analysts had suggested the Mnangagwa’s ouster had paved the way for the volatile First Lady to succeed Mugabe.
In a statement, Mnangagwa vowed to return and wrestle Mugabe for the leadership of both the ruling Zanu PF party and Zimbabwe.
The youth wing of Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF party, which supports Grace Mugabe’s ascendancy, has vowed to challenge the military’s “threats” against a “legitimately-elected government”.
Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based blogger, activist, photographer, digital rights enthusiast, former political aide, and former international development administrator. He’s the founder and editor of these blogs: The Canadian Progressive, Zimbabwean Progressive, and Charity Files. Follow him on Twitter: @Obiemad
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