THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – On Monday, November 13, 2017, Zimbabwe’s army chief General Constantino Chiwenga announced that the army was going to interfere in the politics of the country, if their political allies continue to be victims of infighting and ‘purges’ in the ZANU-PF party.
Following the statement of the army chief, on the evening of November 14, 2017 (Tuesday), report says, soldiers stormed Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare, and took over Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), a state-owned broadcasting station.
General Chiwenga explained that the army was intervening to deal with people around Mugabe who were committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country.
The reaction of the army comes a week after Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe fired Vice President (VP) Emmerson Mnangagwa, following growing tensions between the VP and First Lady Grace Mugabe that later culminated in an allegation by the VP that he was poisoned at a political rally in August 2017. The vice president and the first lady are two of the top figures expected to succeed the ninety-three year old President Mugabe.
Grace Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s first lady, have so far denied the poisoning allegations. At a rally on November 4, she called Mnangagwa a ‘coup plotter’ and a ‘coward’.
The statement of the army chief that aired on the national station read:
‘Good morning Zimbabwe.
Fellow Zimbabweans. Following the address we made on 13 November 2017, which we believe our main broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and the Herald were directed not to publicise, the situation in our country has moved to another level.
Firstly we wish to assure our nation, His Excellency, the president of the Republic of Zimbabwe and commander in chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, comrade R G Mugabe and his family, are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed.
We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice.
To the civil servants, as you are aware there is a plan by the same individuals to influence the current purging which is taking place in the political sphere. To the civil service, we are against that act of injustice and we intend to protect every one of you against that.
To the judiciary, the measures underway are intended to ensure that as an independent arm of the state you are able to exercise your independent authority without fear of being obstructed as has been the case with this group of individuals.
To our members of parliament, your legislative role is of paramount importance, of peace and stability in this country, and it is our desire that a dispensation is created that allows you to serve your respective political constituencies according to democratic tenants.
To the generality of the people of Zimbabwe, we urge you to remain calm and limit unnecessary movement. However, we encourage those who are employed and those with essential business in the city to continue their normal activities as usual. Our wish is that you will enjoy your rights and freedoms and that we return our country to a dispensation that allows for investment, development, and prosperity that we all fought for and for which many of our citizens paid the supreme sacrifice.
To political parties, we urge you to discourage your members from engaging in violent behavior. To the youth, we call upon you to realise that the future of this country is yours. Do not be enticed with the dirty coins of silver, be disciplined and remain committed to the efforts and values of this great nation.
To all churches and religious organizations in Zimbabwe, we call upon your congregations to pray for our country and preach the gospel of love, peace and unity and development. To both our people and the world beyond our borders, we wish to make this abundantly clear this is not a military takeover of government. What the Zimbabwe defence forces is doing is to pacify a degenerating political, social and economic situation in our country which if not addressed may result in violent conflict.
We call upon all the war veterans to play a positive role in ensuring peace, stability, and unity in the country. To members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, all leave is canceled and you are all to return to your barracks with immediate effect.
To the other security forces, we urge you to cooperate for the good of our country. Let it be clear we intend to address the human security threats in our country. Therefore any provocation will be met with an appropriate response.
And to the media, we urge you to report fairly and responsibly.
We thank you.’
Yesterday, Wednesday, Moussa Faki Mahamat, head of the African Union commission, said the action of Zimbabwe’s army was not a coup.
In a speech in Washington, Faki said:
‘The military have reassured us this is not a coup d’etat.
The African Union is against any unconstitutional change of government.’
Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s president, confirmed that President Mugabe was fine and held under house arrest in his house, in a phone conversation. The South African president called for calm in the country.lled for calm in the country. He urged the government and the military to resolve the issue on a friendly note and promised that the South African Development Community would monitor the situation closely.
Alpha Conde, head of the African Union (AU) and president of New Guinea said the takeover by the military ‘seemed like a military coup’, even though the army has claimed it is not. He says it is clearly a case of ‘soldiers trying to take power by force’.
A resident in downtown Harare was reported to have said, ‘I did not think this will ever happen… We used to think Mugabe and Grace were invincible.’
Local journalists revealed that business continued in major cities of Zimbabwe.
‘We are not afraid of anything as long as the army is there. They are protecting us,’ a resident assured.
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