Zimbabwe’s military says it has seized power to target “criminals” around President Robert Mugabe. They claim the President is “safe and sound” in custody with his wife.
A military spokesman, Major General SB Moyo made an announcement on state television early on November 15 saying Mugabe and his family were “safe and sound and their security is guaranteed.” Moyo said the army was targeting “criminals around” Mugabe, who were “committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in order to bring them to justice”.
Troops took over the headquarters of the state broadcaster ZBC on November 14 and blocked access to government offices. According to The Guardian, there were reports of a number of loud explosions and some incidents of members of the armed forces harassing passers-by during the night. The army claims this is not a coup, with Moyo insisting that “as soon as [the armed forces] are done the situation will come to normalcy”.
This comes after 93-year-old President Mugabe fired Emerson Mnangagwa on November 6, the veteran vice-president and former spy chief who has strong support among many in Zimbabwe’s armed forces. Mnangagwa fled the country when he was accused of showing “traits of disloyalty”. This move was seen as paving the way for Mugabe’s wife, Grace Mugabe, to succeed him as president.
Mugabe’s authoritarian rule has been anchored by support from the military but the aging leader has systematically dismissed veterans of the liberation struggle from party posts in recent years, leaving the top echelons stacked with officials who did not fight in the independence war, according to The Guardian. War veterans broke ranks with him in 2016 and have vowed to form a broad front with the opposition to challenge his rule.