UPDATED: Zimbabwe military ‘seizes power’, arrests officials

Zimbabwean army chief Constantino Chinwenga. [Photo credit: PressTV]

Zimbabwe’s military has taken power in the southern African nation, detaining top officials in an apparent coup.

But the military denied it was a coup, instead saying it was targeting “criminals” around long-ruling President Robert Mugabe.

The military said 93-year-old Mr. Mugabe, the world’s oldest leader, was “safe and sound”, alongside is family, Reuters news agency reported Wednesday.

The army had on Monday warned it could “step in” and would not tolerate purges in the ruling ZANU-PF that had seen Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa fired.

The party responded on Tuesday by accusing army chief Constantino Chinwenga, a general, of “treasonable conduct” and vowing not to succumb to military threats.

Late Tuesday, armoured tanks took position in the capital, and there were sounds of gunfire in the capital Harare early Wednesday but the military asked residents to be calm.

Soldiers quickly seized the state broadcaster, ZBC, manhandled its staff and read out a statement announcing its plans, Reuters reported.

The statement, read by Sibusiso Moyo, a major general and Chief of Staff Logistics, denied the action was a “military takeover of government” and assured “the nation that his excellency the president… 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. As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy,” the military said.

Reports say senior government officials, which the military referred to as “criminals”, were detained, and Reuters quoted a source as confirming Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo was among those taken into custody.

Mr. Chombo is a prominent member of a faction of the ZANU-PF party supporting Mr. Mugabe’s wife, Grace’s bid to succeed her husband.

The statement ordered all military personnel on leave to return to barracks immediately, and advised all security services to cooperate, threatening any provocation with “appropriate response”.

It assured the Zimbabwean judiciary that its independence.

The unprecedented move has thrown the struggling nation into political uncertainty as the global community monitors for clarity.

The United States embassy in Harare said it would not open on Wednesday “due to uncertainty” and urged its citizens to “shelter in place”.

Mr. Mugabe took power in 1980, leading what was then a promising African nation away from white colonial power.

His prolonged stay has seen the country’s economy collapse after he chased out white farmers and lost economic ties with most western powers and institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The recent crisis is centred on Mr. Mugabe’ wife’s bid to succeed her husband, and began after the ruling party fired prominent members — a move seen as meant to clear Mrs. Mugabe’s succession path.

The dismissal of Vice President Mnangagwa, a former defence minister and a favourite to succeed Mr. Mugabe, appears to be the tipping point.

The army said on Monday it would not tolerate the removal of veterans who fought for the country’s independence.


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  • Gerald Okoduwa

    That’s what you get with unending greed, avarice and sit-tight syndrome. No western world will save you. Other sit-tight African rulers should note.

    • abodes_124

      Indeed even closer to home.

  • Pluti

    Mugabe is a bastard, even God know say I nor dey lie but a coup d’etat?? They can only pray to get the best out of this, which a democracy and an election

  • Dejandon

    Don’t celebrate yet,will those Ooni’s in Nigeria know that the military is not any better, actually worse. That have been paddy paddy to the ruling class for long in any case. Best is to just let the status quo remain till God calls Mugabe to glory and then let democracy start afresh. Give or take another 5 years otherwise the repercussion of military take over will last another 50 years plus, ask us in Nigeria.

    And on another note, don’t rule out the fingers of the western intelligence agencies in this. They used home grown enemies within to achieve their aims of destabilizing countries they seem unfriendly to them

    • Jimi

      Unfortunately, the military has decided to call Mugabe, rather than wait for your God to do so – God uses man to implement his decisions. Death is not the only way God calls people. Read your Bible very well.

      Also, who is paying your salary? Are you worried that now that Mugabe has been obviously dethroned you will no longer have the opportunity to spend time with Grace, his wife? Don’t worry because Mugabe can no longer pound the yam even with viagra, she will find a way to catch up with you for regular oil change. Take heart my brother.

      • Dejandon

        I see you are one of those infected with social media insanity bug and hence can’t contribute meaningfully to a discourse without resorting to abuses

  • rules_emmanuelO.

    If the military has any good intentions they should unsit Mugabe, and help synthesize transition to a new democratic dispensation.

  • Lanre

    This is a shame on Mugabe. How could an educated Political Activist rule his country for 36 years without a proper succession plan? His latest accusation of his deputy (the reason he had him fired) was that he contacted a sorcerer (Witch, Wizard, Shrink, Fortune-Teller) to tell him (the deputy) when Mugabe will die. That was the guy’s offence. Only in Africa, in a country with over 16 million souls. A country with educated citizens. How does a country descend to such a level of total destitution? Pardon me. Nigeria had Abacha.

    • abodes_124

      Na so we see am for Africa. Succession to the Presidency by the dying is not such a strange thing in our continent. We may one day witness that in our country.

    • FreeNigeria

      How did Nigeria descend to such a level? if not worse than Zimbabwe

  • Frank Bassey

    This is a welcome development that is long overdue. African Union or international community does not have to like it. The military should take fully take over government and quickly dethrone Robert Mugabe and all his cohorts. They are evil.

    • Owejah

      Thank you Frank Bassey. Dictatorship regardless of its power has its expiry date. This is when the moronic Zimbabweans are finally saying ” Hear O Robert! Our Mumu Don Do!”

  • Yego V

    You wonder what they’ve been doing for 3 decades. The same goes for our zombies

  • Keen Observer

    This is a very good news to behold. But in my own opinion the Military should maintain the status quo & naturally allows Mugabe to finish his greed mission (as he passes away). Then Zimbabweans can commence a new democratic life; there is no place at all for Mugabe’s wife, never!

    • Jimi

      Continue with what? For all his atrocities, he needs t be humiliated out of office.

  • Abdulmojeed Nojeemdeen

    This should not be allowed to stay. Why should we allow some greedy power mongers to continue to remote control us from the Western world. This is hypocrisy. They dictate who becomes what in our father land. This same style they employed to remove morsi,a democratically elected president, and a military was allowed, today,these same Western world who went into hidden are today being seen to be friends to these evils in power. If anything should be allowed to happen to Robert Mugabe, it means we are finished in Africa. What was Gaddafi’s offence,long stay and refusal to be a Western stooge. What is Mugabe’s offence,long stay and refusal to be a westetern stooge,those who are ignorantly applauding this should challenge the shenanigans going on in the UK in the name of democracy. A sit tight queen without a written Constitution, call it a name and let me here you. America is fighting North Korea,Iran Syria,Afghanistan, etc,why? Because they refuse to bow to American dictations. But when are we going to wise up in the world especially in Africa.

    • alexis

      You can refuse to be a western stooge and still provide good governance for your people,in the absence of equitable governance you’re far worse than the western powers u complain of

    • Afo

      What Mugabe has done to his country is unacceptable for any sane people; it is only those with evil intention
      that will support the old man. Patriotic army should not truncate democratic process but tele-guide the old man to finish his term and the army should appoint new body comprising patriotic people to conduct fair and free election. Enough of terrorist governance in Africa.

      • Hariscom Riscom

        Which term are you talking of finishing after 37years, he should go jare.

      • Reward Izuegbu

        I wonder how shallow people can think. Is he n his family the only people in Zimbabwe. After 37 yrs u are talking of finishing his term in office. The other day his son was pouring Champaign on his $16m watch! Now that is what finishing his term means.

    • Jimi

      Who is paying your salary? Are you worried that now that Mugabe has been obviously dethroned you will no longer have the opportunity to spend time with Grace, his wife? Don’t worry because Mugabe can no longer pound the yam even with viagra, she will find a way to catch up with you for regular oil change. Take heart my brother.

      • Abdulmojeed Nojeemdeen

        How does that make sense to you? Wouldn’t you rather take your drug and the coffee and then rest in peace than this. Nojeemdeen has spoken, if you cannot understand then ask a fellow. Idiocy is when you don’t know what is right unless you were being told.

  • Oto-obong Okoibu

    Mr mugabe have confirmed he is really a tyrant and he is even worst than kim yun un except that is not running a nuclear weapon by wanting to install a stooge(wife) , maybe this zimbabwans are weak that they cannot dethrone this detector.

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  • shola

    For all Zimbabweans, this is a Christmas present in advance. The same thing I wish could happen in Cameroon. Mugabe and Paul Biya – they should never come back.

  • FreeNigeria

    Nigeria is next, hopefully not the senior thieves in the military, they should be casualties. Buhari and Mugabe are age mates

    • Opekete

      Why do you think Nigeria should be next? Are you saying that we fare better under the military than democracy? I don’t believe access to the internet is a license for thoughtless statements.

      • FreeNigeria

        Democracy has been a curse on Nigeria. No,not better, at least it’s step closer to cleaning the parasites sucking life out of the country. Patriots in the military, not the politicians in uniform

      • Jimi

        How is our life better under democracy when a government that claims to be fighting corruption recalls a wanted man and nobody has been fired over the scandal.

  • manager

    Good morning Mugabe , since you refused to go peacefully

  • manager

    All the the African leaders that claim that Western world’s are evil ends up sending there looted money to the same Western world’s leaders like Abacha and ghadafi

  • Timothy

    I have a lot of respect for Mugabe but trying to make his wife Succeed him makes it look like no credible person in govt or outside govt is capable except the one Mugabe chooses…..well he has been there for many years….lets see how this plays out…..this would have been Nigeria’s fate if GEJ had won the election…God still loves us

  • Jimi