Zimbabwe’s military seized control of state television on Wednesday and a spokesman said the army was acting against “criminals” surrounding 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe…

Dressed in military fatigues, Major General S.B. Moyo announced in a live broadcast on ZBC that said Mugabe and his family were safe. Earlier witnesses reported at least three explosions in the capital, Harare. Army road blocks are reported nationwide.

Despite tanks and armoured personnel carriers moving in and around the Zimbabwe capital Harare on Tuesday, Moyo said that the actions of the country’s defence forces were not a coup.

“To both our people and the world beyond our borders, we wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover of government,” S.B. Moyo said.

“What the Zimbabwe Defense Forces is doing is to pacify a degenerating political, social and economic situation in our country, which if not addressed may result in a violent conflict,” he said. He asked the public to remain calm but limit unnecessary movement.”

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“Drastic action”

The head of the defence forces, General Constantino Chiwenga, warned on Monday that the army would take “drastic action” if factions in Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF party did not stop purges against party members with military backgrounds. Zanu PF issued a statement calling Chiwenga’s comments treason.

Chiwenga was speaking at a press conference attended by military brass. He is a supporter of former deputy president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was last week sacked by Mugabe amid a row over party leadership succession. Mnangagwa fled to South Africa after death threats.

Chiwenga spoke after the “G40” faction in Zanu PF, which supports Mugabe’s wife Grace for succession, promised to purge all allies believed to be supporting the Lacoste faction, which is said to be sympathetic to Mnangagwa. Chiwenga’s comments were widely interpreted as a thinly veiled coup threat. His whereabouts are unknown

Wednesday morning’s broadcast urged Zimbabweans to “go to work as normal”

The military figure said the army was only taking action against “criminals”.

But Zanu-PF youth league chairperson Kudzanayi Chipanga said Chiwenga did not have the full support of the military and that the league was ready to die defending Mugabe. The youth wing is a strong supporter of Grace Mugabe.

The UK Foreign Office has advised its citizens “currently in Harare to remain safely at home or in their accommodation until the situation becomes clearer”. The US Embassy has also advised its citizens to “shelter in place” until further notice.

Author: ANA Newswire