Zimbabwe’s military has taken control of state TV broadcaster, ZBC, and a statement read out by Maj Gen Sibusiso Moyo said that this wasn’t a military takeover of the government but an action against “targeted criminals” around President Mugabe.
Early hours on Wednesday, heavy gunfire and artillery were heard in northern suburbs of capital Harare. Zimbabwe’s envoy to South Africa, Isaac Moyo, earlier dismissed talk of a coup, saying the government was “intact”.
The statement read out by Maj Gen Moyo said, “We wish to assure the nation that his excellency the President…and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed,” as reported by BBC.
“We are only targeting criminals around him who are 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,” he added.
Moyo said that they had to seize ZBC because the national broadcaster had been instructed not to make public statement from the military.
However, he did not mention those “targeted”. Per Reuters, Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo had been detained by the military, a government source said. It is unclear who is leading the military action.
Road to the main government offices, parliament and the courts in central Harare have been blocked by soldiers and armoured vehicles.
Former adviser to Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, believes the military’s claim that they haven’t carried out a coup is untrue.
“They have decided not to call it a coup because they know that a coup does not sell, it will be condemned,” he said, reported BBC.
Zimbabwe’s ruling party, Zanu-PF, accused the country’s army chief, General Constantino Chiwenga, of “treasonable conduct” after he warned of possible military intervention.
Chiwenga had challenged 93-year-old President Mugabe after he sacked Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week amid a row of succession. First Lady Grace Mugabe is now the clear front-runner for the presidency.
President Mugabe has been in power in the South African nation for the last 37-years and Mnangagwa was favourite to succeed before be was ousted. He was previously seen as an heir to the President but the rivalry between him and President Mugabe has split Zanu-PF.
Chiwenga had made clear the army’s refusal to accepts the VP’s removal and presumed accession of Grace. Her rise brought her into conflict with the independence-era war veterans who, until the last two years, enjoyed privileged status in the country when they led the criticism of Mugabe’s handling of the economy.
Zimbabwe’s economy is witnessing high inflation and many fear that this will echo the meltdown of 2007-08 when inflation was at 500 billion percent.
Currently, economists say that inflation is at 50% a month and imported goods are running out in the country.
Reuters reviewed a hoard of documents that revealed Mnangagwa’s plans of revitalizing the economy by bringing back thousands of white farmers kicked off their land nearly two decades ago and patching up relations with the likes of the World Bank and IMF.