Military Coup Reportedly Under Way In Zimbabwe

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Originally appeared at Zero Hedge

Zimbabwe is on edge amid speculation that a military coup is in progress, with army tanks seen outside the capital a day after the army commander threatened to “step in” to calm political tensions over the president’s firing of his vice president. The Associated Press said it saw three tanks with several soldiers in a convoy on a road heading toward an army barracks just outside the capital, Harare, while Reuters reported that four tanks were seen heading toward the capital.

According to Reuters, two other tanks were seen parked beside the main road from Harare to Chinhoyi, about 20km from the city. Eyewitnesses also saw military vehicles blocking major roads outside the city.

The alleged coup takes place one day after Zimbabwe’s army chief demanded a “stop” to the purge in President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF, following the sacking of vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa was well-supported by the Zimbabwean national forces. On Monday, Amry General Constantino Chiwenga told a media conference attended by at least 90 senior army officers at the army headquarters in Harare on Monday that: “The current purging which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith.”

According to New Zimbabwe.com, Chiwenga recently returned from a trip in China to find Mnangagwa fired from government and expelled from Zanu-PF. The report said that the army had been seen to be backing Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe, 93, but the nonagenarian’s wife Grace had emerged as a top contender. Mnangagwa was kicked out of both government and the ruling party last week following accusations that he was plotting to topple Mugabe from power.

This prompted the army chief to accuse Zimbabwe’s ruling party of expelling senior officials who participated in the 1970s war against white-minority ruled Rhodesia, saying “counter revolutionaries” were plotting to destroy the party. This was the first time Zimbabwe’s military directly criticised the infighting in Zanu-PF and marked a rift between Mugabe and an institution that has been a key pillar of his power.

“The current purging and cleansing process in Zanu-PF which so far is targeting mostly members associated with our liberation history is a serious cause for concern for us in the defense forces,” said Chiwenga, at a press conference, reading from his statement.

He then warned those “behind the current treacherous shenanigans that when it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in. The current purging of which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith.”

It appears that one day later, Chiwengae has made good on his threat, with tanks deployed around the capital. Local media also reported that heavily armed military personnel had sealed off state TV broadcaster ZBC.

As AP adds, while it is routine for tanks to move along that route, Tuesday’s timing heightens unease in this country that for the first time is seeing an open rift between the military and 93 -year-old President Robert Mugabe.

Meanwhile, reports on the ground from Zimbabwe suggest that a coup may indeed be taking place. A flurry of photos – shared by journalists across Twitter – show a fleet of the armoured vehicles making their way to the country’s capital.  The convoy has taken to the streets just a day after the head of the armed forces said he was prepared to “step in” to end a purge of supporters of ousted vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

A journalist in Harare has told News24 that “it seems the army is angry”. He says the situation is a bit “tense” in the capital.

Some on Twitter are saying that although a coup is almost never a good thing, it brings an end to Mugabe’s much despised regime.

Meanwhile, in a sign that events may turn violent, earlier on Tuesday, The Zimbabwean reported that Zimbabwe’s Zanu-PF youths said they were “prepared to die” in defence of President Mugabe’s government. In a statement on Tuesday, Zanu-PF’s secretary of the youth league Kudzai Chipanga said that Zanu-PF youths did not take lightly the military’s threats.

“We as Zanu-PF youth league are a lion which has awakened and found its voice, therefore we will not sit idly and fold our hands whilst cheap potshots and threats are made against Mugabe,” Chipanga said.

* * *

Here is Al Jazeera with a brief explainer of the political crisis in Zimbabwe that threatens to sweep Robert Mugabe from his post:

Zimbabwe is facing a political crisis with the ruling Zanu-PF party, as a very public showdown over who is likely to succeed President Robert Mugabe plays out. The current standoff is between the Youth faction, loyal to his wife, Grace Mugabe, and the former liberation fighters, loyal to Emmerson Mnangagwa, the vice president who was fired last week. Al Jazeera’s Hannah Hoexter explains.

Readers can track live updates from the alleged coup at the following live feed.

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  • Tiresia Branding

    how to make China angry and furious

  • MeMadMax

    APCs are not tanks…

    >_>

    • The Farney Fontenoy

      They don’t have enough fuel for APCs AND tanks!

    • Vitex

      They look like rebuilt t-50s

  • Kristy Rain

    its one APC and a truckload of guys. Wheres the MBT’s and low flying copters????

  • Dagnir

    But nothing can bring back Rhodesia. :(

    • Turbofan

      You mean the Zimbabwe of white European racist colonialist?

      • XRGRSF

        Obviously, you weren’t there.

      • The Farney Fontenoy

        Here’s the outlook for Zimbabwe on it’s 30th anniversary of independence; keep in mind this is from SEVEN YEARS AGO:
        http://www.politicsweb.co.za/iservice/zimbabwe-thirty-lost-years

        • You can call me Al

          Let me sum up it up:

          30 yeas ago, it was the breadbasket of Africa and ranked only below Libya and South Africa (maybe Egypt and later Nigeria) as on of the big boys.

          Now it is a total sh1t hole.

      • You can call me Al

        not too bright are you ?.

        We don’t need to come back and you can continue starving and killing each other, until you get an IQ over 85 and stop inbreeding.

      • John Brown

        Now it will get a Rothchlid central banks and be a Jewish run racist colonial country of the global racist supremacist Jewish slave confederate empire.

      • Vitex

        And you live in the Europe of the zionist racist colonialists?

    • You can call me Al

      You maybe surprised how quickly that can happen – 2/3 years maybe (regards the crops).

      Anyway, strange it happened now, but I have been saying for a year or two, don’t forget the ME, but watch Africa.

  • XRGRSF

    Boss, when’s freedom gonna end?

  • The Farney Fontenoy

    Seems Mugabe hasn’t been arrested yet, but he can’t leave the city, and KG6 military headquarters is on lockdown, it’s likely the army are trying to force Mugabe to backdown on his wife’s VP bid, if he won’t even in the face of a coup, they will have to move on him, and i’m certain most people will back them.

    • You can call me Al

      Tick tock…… arrested and decapitated (the eaten)….. this is Africa.

      • Kell

        TIA

        • You can call me Al

          TIA ?….

  • SnowCatzor

    Good if true, kick that old racist bastard Mugabe out.