Zimbabwe: Military takes charge, vows to crush indecency

Chaos erupts in Zimbabwe's capital amid growing political unrest and rumors of a coup

Zimbabwe is facing the prospect of a military coup over who will succeed Robert Mugabe, after an unprecedented intervention by the army, which took control of the headquarters of the country's national TV station this morning amid reports of heavy gunfire and artillery in the northern suburbs of the capital, Harare.

Canadians in Zimbabwe were being advised Wednesday to stay indoors in the capital city of Harare due to political turmoil in the African nation.

Zimbabwe's envoy to South Africa, Isaac Moyo, earlier dismissed talk of a coup, saying the government was "intact".

Two hours later, soldiers overran the headquarters of the ZBC, Zimbabwe's state broadcaster and a principal Mugabe mouthpiece, and ordered staff to leave.

"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 said, slowly reading out a statement.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe army said once mission accomplished, "situation will return to normalcy".

In response to the conference, Mugabe's political party accused Chiwenga of "treasonable conduct".

Armoured vehicles were seen on the streets near the capital Harare as questions mounted over whether Mr Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980, was still holding onto power.

They said the embassy will be minimally staffed and closed to the public.

Kasukuwere and Jonathan Moyo
Kasukuwere and Jonathan Moyo

While military vehicle movement there is routine, the timing heightened unease that for the first time is seeing an open rift between the military and Mugabe.

But her rise has brought her into conflict with the independence-era war veterans, who once enjoyed a privileged role in the ruling party under Mr Mugabe, but who have increasingly been banished from senior government and party roles in recent years.

The leader of Zanu-PF's youth wing, Kudzai Chipanga, told reporters: "It is our country and future at stake and we will not let any individual military man interfere with the leader of the party and legitimately voted president of this country".

Mugabe's second wife has developed a reputation as a shrewd, if sometimes extravagant, politician, and has steadily gained influence among youth in Zimbabwe.

Mnangagwa, 75, was widely viewed as Mugabe's most loyal lieutenant, having worked alongside him for decades.

The current tension was sparked last week when Mugabe fired his deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and accused him of disloyalty and plotting to seize power.

General Constantino Chiwenga had challenged President Mugabe after he sacked the vice-president.

The Army last night announced that they had taken over government business, with the intension of dealing with President Mugabe's ministers who were misleading the aged leader.

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