The Zimbabwean military has initiated an apparent coup aimed at targeting “criminals” around President Robert Mugabe, a week after he fired his vice president and likely successor.
Mugabe, who has been president for all 37 years of the country’s independence, is said to be safe with his wife Grace Mugabe, according to South African president Jacob Zuma, who spoke directly with the 93-year-old leader.
The president fired his Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week in a move many believed was a setup for the 52-year-old Mrs. Mugabe to take over the presidency. With Mnangagwa having fled into exile, the country's army chief warned Monday that those responsible for “purging” the country's ruling Zanu-PF party to stop, or the military will step in, the BBC reported.
As a result, it is not clear if the army takeover is aimed at ending Mugabe’s decades-long rule, or as some have speculated, aimed at preventing Mrs. Mugabe from succeeding him. She has slowly gained political power in recent years, developing a strong following in the powerful youth wing of the ruling party.
“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 national television Wednesday. He insisted that no coup had occurred and the president was “safe and sound”.
Though the atmosphere remains calm in the capital Harare, armored vehicles blocked access to the main government office, parliament, courts and the state broadcaster, Reuters reports.
This is a developing story.