Military coup rumours in Zimbabwe after broadcaster seized

Remigio Civitarese
Novembre 15, 2017

The leader of Zimbabwe's influential liberation war veterans called Wednesday for South Africa, southern Africa and the West to re-engage with Zimbabwe after the military seized power from 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe. A potential flashpoint could come next week, when supporters of Mnangagwa plan to march against Mugabe in Harare. "But de facto they are obviously the military force".

The resident added that there was a sense of "excitement in the air" and that social media was humming over what might be happening.

Many observers saw the move as a step toward the installation of Mugabe's wife, Grace Mugabe, as vice president. She's been nicknamed "Gucci Grace" for her exorbitant shopping sprees overseas, trips which stand in stark contrast to the lives of those hit hard by the country's massive inflation and debt burdens.

Mnangagwa, who enjoyed the backing of the military and is known as the "crocodile" because of his perceived shrewdness, fled the country. A celebrated freedom fighter in the country's liberation wars, the 75-year-old has since gone into hiding and his whereabouts are unknown.

In an address to the nation, an army spokesman said the military is targeting "criminals" around Mugabe, and sought to reassure the country that order will be restored. It said this when it took over the state broadcaster in the early hours on Wednesday.

Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party responded by accusing the general of "treasonable conduct".

The UK has issued a warning for its citizens in the country to stay indoors amid reports of "unusual military activity".

"From the direction of his house, we heard about 30 or 40 shots fired over three or four minutes soon after 2:00 a.m.", AFP quoted witnesses close to Mugabe's compound as saying.

"To members of the defense forces, all leave is canceled and you all to return to your barracks with immediate effect".

Alex Magaisa, a British-based Zimbabwean academic said it was premature to talk about a coup.

"One hopes that Zimbabwe itself does not descend into martial law", he said.

The reports of explosions came after Zimbabwe's ruling party called Chiwenga's criticism of Mugabe's administration "treasonable" and meant to incite insurrection in the southern African nation. Grace split with her own husband, and her wedding to the president in 1996 was attended by Nelson Mandela and other African leaders.

In speeches this year, Mugabe has often slurred his words, mumbled and paused for long periods.

The tactic has been effective.

The attacks, which had the backing of President Mugabe, eventually led to the dismissal of the former vice president, who has strong backing from the military.

After clashing with Mr Mugabe's wife, Grace, the vice-president was accused of treachery and sacked.

Many had expected Grace Mugabe to be appointed vice president in Mnangagwa's place at the Zanu-PF special congress next month.

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