Zimbabwe’s military appeared to be in control of the country on Wednesday as generals denied staging a coup, but used state television to vow to target “criminals” close to President Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe’s decades-long grip on power was dramatically weakened as military vehicles blocked roads outside the parliament in Harare and senior soldiers delivered a late-night television address to the nation.
“We wish to assure the nation that his excellency, the president, and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed,” Major-General Sibusiso Moyo read out a statement.
“We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes. As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”
Mugabe, 93, has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.
‘Someone had to do something, the army should make sure that there is no loss of life, however, anyone seeking to undermine this transition should be dealt with decisively.’
Politicians in South Africa have shared their thoughts on the situation in Zimbabwe, with most agreeing that it was time for Mugabe to step down.
As if he had known what would transpire in the country, EFF leader Julius Malema on Thursday last week reiterated his call for Mugabe to step down, saying his overstay was “destroying his legacy”.
Though Malema said he liked Mugabe for “his contribution towards the African revolution”, he said it was time for the president to bow out.
According to Malema, though the Zimbabwean president had achieved much in his reign, he might have failed in creating leaders who would carry on his legacy, and that was perhaps the reason he was holding on to power for long.
“A good leader should have produced second and third layer leadership to continue the good fight against imperialism,” he said.
Someone had to do something, the army should make sure that there is no loss of life however anyone seeking to undermine this transition should be dealt with decisively. Finally free and stable Zimbabwe is coming in our life time.✊????✊????✊????
— Julius Sello Malema (@Julius_S_Malema) November 15, 2017
He again took to social media on Wednesday to commend the Zimbabwean army, but said there should be no loss of life.
“Someone had to do something, the army should make sure that there is no loss of life, however, anyone seeking to undermine this transition should be dealt with decisively.
“Finally free and stable Zimbabwe is coming in our life time,” he added.
EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu also commended the Zimbabwean Defence Force for “rescuing” Zimbabwe to allow “civilian rule towards stability”.
“History tells us that not all removals of nepotistic, corrupt, and self-obsessed governments amount to illegitimate coup de tat. The ZDF has to rescue Zimbabwe and allow civilian rule towards stability. No retreat!” he said.
History tells us that not all removals of nepotistic, corrupt, and self-obsessed governments amount to illegitimate coup de tat. The ZDF has to rescue Zimbabwe and allow civilian rule towards stability. No retreat!
— Floyd Shivambu (@FloydShivambu) November 15, 2017
Black First Land First leader Andile Mngxitama said though an “internal regeneration was overdue”, he hoped it was not orchestrated by the West.
“The Zimbabwe revolution had stagnated and been suffocated by imperialism. Zimbabwe transition could unleash the national productive forces for reconstruction. Only if it’s not mortgaged to the West,” he said.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane only called for Mugabe to step down, as he had turned “dictator” against his people.
“The instability in Zimbabwe is an outcome of not adhering of electoral results of 2008, forming a GNU. Mugabe must go, he has turned dictator against his people. We must always ensure democratic outcomes are upheld so we enter a Post Liberation Movement era,” he said.
Founding member of the Congress of the People (Cope) Mbhazima Shilowa said a coup would be good for Zanu-PF, but not Zimbabwe and the opposition.
“This is the same army that propped Bob and attacked the opposition and helped Zanu steal the elections before,” he said.
Is the UK and USA involved in the alleged coup in Zimbabwe? Does this suggest that they are supporting Mnangagwa? Does this make him an imperial stooge? Should this be the case, should South Africa deal with him? Will this be a blue or orange revolution?
— Mbhazima Shilowa (@Enghumbhini) November 15, 2017
Patriotic Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie commended the army for not humiliating Grace Mugabe after she allegedly humiliated them publicly by calling them “every derogatory name under the sun”.
“The Army-Generals truly love and revere Mugabe, they are not humiliating him by public displays of his fall. His family is also safe,” he said.
Grace Mugabe humiliated them publicly, she called them every derogatory name under sun, still she is being treated with respect.
— Gayton McKenzie (@G_XCON) November 15, 2017
Addressing media on the outcomes of the special NEC meeting on Tuesday afternoon, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the situation in Zimbabwe was not for the ANC to deal with.
“The government in Zimbabwe must deal with that, not the ANC in South Africa. ZanuPF must deal with that issue because Zimbabwe is not our colony, it is not our province, it is our neighbour. If things go wrong there of course we’ll be concerned because it will revert back on us. But we have no authority over them, that’s the point we’re making,” he said.
President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday released a statement, calling for “calm” and “restraint” in the country.
“President Zuma has expressed hope that developments in Zimbabwe would not lead to unconstitutional changes of Government as that would be contrary to both SADC and African Union positions.
“The President has urged the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Defence Force to resolve the political impasse amicably and has urged the Zimbabwean Defence Force to ensure that the maintenance of peace and security in the country is not compromised.
“SADC will continue to closely monitor the situation and remains ready to assist where necessary to resolve the political impasse in keeping with established SADC Protocols and processes,” he said.
Additional reporting by AFP.