Zimbabwe’s military seized power in the early hours of Wednesday, targeting “criminals” around President Robert Mugabe but gave assurances on national television that the 93-year-old leader and his family were “safe and sound”.
It is understood that Mugabe and his family remain in military detention in Zimbabwe, 12 hours after the military declared on national television that it had temporarily taken control of the country to “target criminals” around the head of state.
The move by the armed forces appears to have resolved a bitter battle to succeed the 93-year-old president, which had pitted his former vice-president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, against his wife, 52-year-old Grace Mugabe.
Reuters reports that soldiers and armored vehicles blocked roads to the main government offices, parliament and the courts in central Harare, while taxis ferried commuters to work nearby.
“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,” Major General SB Moyo, Chief of Staff Logistics, said on television.
“As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”
Reiterating the military’s stand, Zimbabwe’s ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front, on Wednesday also said President Mugabe and his family were safe after the military took custody of the world’s oldest head of state earlier in the day.
Zimbabwe has not had a coup. There has been a decision to intervene because our constitution had been undermined, in the interim Comrade E Mnagngawa will be president of ZANU PF as per the constitution of our revolutionary organisation.
— ZANU PF (@zanu_pf) November 15, 2017
Mugabe Held At His Home, Says South African President
Robert Mugabe is being confined to his home, but is in good health, according to Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s president, who said he has spoken to his Zimbabwean counterpart.
View image on Twitter
— SABC News Online (@SABCNewsOnline) November 15, 2017
The Guardian reports that Zuma, in his capacity as chair of the Southern African Development Community, said he was sending special envoys to Zimbabwe to meet Mugabe and the Zimbabwean Defence Force, which has seized power in Harare.
But neither Mugabe, the self-styled ‘Grand Old Man’ of African politics, nor his wife Grace, who has been vying to succeed him as president, have been seen or heard from.