Zimbabwe’s army says it has President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace in custody and is securing government offices and patrolling the capital Harare’s streets.
South African Broadcasting Corporation [SABC] reported that Mugabe and his entire family were under house arrest at his ‘Blue Roof’ residence in Borrowdale suburb.
The army General Constantino Chiwenga wants Emmerson Mnangagwa to take as Zimbabwean President from Robert Mugabe.
Mnangagwa, a powerful figure in the ruling Zanu-PF party, fled to South Africa last week after he was fired and was then stripped of his lifetime membership of the party.
Unconfirmed reports even claimed the dismissed Vice-president had landed at Manyame Airforce Base to take control of government.
“We are only targeting criminals around him (Mugabe) who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice,” Zimbabwe Major General SB Moyo, Chief of Staff Logistics, said on national television on Wednesday.
“As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”
Arrests of officials
The military detained Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo on Wednesday, a government source told Reuters.
— SABC News Online (@SABCNewsOnline) November 15, 2017
Chombo was a leading member of the so-called ‘G40’ faction of the ruling ZANU-PF party, led by Mugabe’s wife Grace, that had been vying to succeed Mugabe.
Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwayo has also been arrested, according to Associated Press.
Also arrested are Zanu PF commissar Saviour Kasukuwere and Higher Education minister Prof Jonathan Moyo aka Jonso, a leading proponent of a faction of Zanu PF known as G40, who was poised to be appointed third vice president.
Soldiers take over
Soldiers deployed across the Zimbabwe capital Harare on Tuesday and seized the state broadcaster after Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party accused the head of the military of treason, prompting frenzied speculation of a coup.
Just 24 hours after military chief General Constantino Chiwenga threatened to intervene to end a purge of his allies in Mugabe’s ZANU-PF, a Reuters reporter saw armoured personnel carriers on main roads around the capital.
Aggressive soldiers told passing cars to keep moving through the darkness. “Don’t try anything funny. Just go,” one barked at Reuters on Harare Drive.
Two hours later, soldiers overran the headquarters of the ZBC, Zimbabwe’s state broadcaster and a principal Mugabe mouthpiece, and ordered staff to leave. Several ZBC workers were manhandled, two members of staff and a human rights activist said.
Shortly afterwards, three explosions rocked the centre of the southern African nation’s capital, Reuters witnesses said.
Mugabe, the self-styled ‘Grand Old Man’ of African politics, has led Zimbabwe for the last 37 years.
Only a few months ago, Mnangagwa, a former security chief nicknamed “The Crocodile”, was favourite to succeed his life-long political patron but was ousted a week ago to pave the way for Mugabe’s 52-year-old wife Grace to succeed him.
Veterans hail military take over
The leader of Zimbabwe’s influential liberation war veterans called on Wednesday for South Africa, southern Africa and the West to re-engage with Zimbabwe after the military seized power from 93-year-old.
Chris Mutsvangwa hailed the military’s overnight move as the “correction of a state that was careening off a cliff” and said the military administration would usher in a “better business environment” after years of disinvestment and economic decline.