Zimbabwe’s military appeared to be in control of the country 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.
Major General Sibusiso Moyo said in a statement that the president… and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed, adding that “this is not a military takeover of government”.
But the generals’ actions posed as a major challenge to the ageing Mugabe, 93, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.
Tensions between the veteran leader and the military, which has long helped prop up his authoritarian rule, have erupted in public in recent days.
The ruling ZANU-PF party on Tuesday accused army chief General Constantino Chiwenga of “treasonable conduct” after he criticised Mugabe for sacking vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa’s dismissal left Mugabe’s wife Grace, 52, in prime position to succeed her husband as the next president — a succession strongly opposed by senior ranks in the military.