Barely 48-hours after threatening the Robert Mugabe-led government it would “step in” if the purging in his ZANU-PF party is not stopped, the military has seized control in Zimbabwe.
After seizing State TV, an Army spokesman, Maj Gen Sibusiso Moyo, announced that President Robert Mugabe, in power since 1980, is safe, but it was targeting people close to Mugabe who had caused “social and economic suffering”.
The military intervention came after Mugabe sacked his Deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, in favour of his wife, Grace.
Heavy gun and artillery fire could be heard in northern parts of the capital, Harare early on Wednesday.
A statement read out by Major Gen Moyo on air denied it was a coup and said Mugabe was safe but did not say where.
The UK Foreign Office has advised Britons “currently in Harare to remain safely at home or in their accommodation until the situation becomes clearer,” while the US Embassy in Harare advised US citizens in Zimbabwe to “shelter in place” until further notice
After soldiers overran the headquarters of the ZBC broadcaster, armoured vehicles took up position on roads around Harare on Tuesday.
Moyo went on air to say the military wished to “assure 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,” he said.
“As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy,” he added.
A government source said that Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo who is a top member of Zanu-PF had been detained.