Zimbabwe military 'takes power', detains finance minister
In a short broadcast on national television, which was seized overnight by soldiers, a spokesman for the military said it expected “normalcy” to return as soon as it had completed its “mission”
Scroll down to read the full statement by the Zimbabwe military
The armed forces seized power in Zimbabwe after a week of confrontation with President Robert Mugabe’s government and said the action was needed to stave off violent conflict in the southern African nation that he’s ruled since 1980.
The Zimbabwe Defense Forces will guarantee the safety of Mugabe, 93, and his family and is only “targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice,” Major-General Sibusiso Moyo said in a televised address in Harare, the capital. All military leave has been canceled, he said.
Denying that the action was a military takeover, Moyo said “as soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect the situation to return to normalcy.” He urged the other security services to cooperate and warned that “any provocation will be met with an appropriate response.”
The action came a day after armed forces commander Constantine Chiwenga announced that the military would stop “those bent on hijacking the revolution.”
Reuters reports that the military detained Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo on Wednesday after seizing power in an attempt to root out “criminals” around Mugabe who it said were causing social and economic suffering, a government source said.
Chombo was a leading member of the so-called ‘G40’ faction of the ruling ZANU-PF party, led by Mugabe’s wife Grace, that had been vying to succeed the 93-year-old president.
As several armored vehicles appeared in the capital on Tuesday, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front described Chiwenga’s statements as “treasonable” and intended to incite insurrection. Later in the day, several explosions were heard in the city.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Zimbabwean vice president who was sacked by Mugabe, sparking the military move, said on Twitter: "Today 15/11/17, we salute & applaud the bravery of our ZDF who decisively rejected desperate last minute concessions by an Executive whose sole objective was to create a family dynasty.An Army led transitional phase will now pave way for a peaceful, free&fair democratic election." (This Twitter account appears genuine but has not been officially verified - ed)
Today 15/11/17, we salute & applaud the bravery of our ZDF who decisively rejected desperate last minute concessions by an Executive whose sole objective was to create a family dynasty.— ED Mnangagwa (@ED_Mnangagwa) November 15, 2017
An Army led transitional phase will now pave way for a peaceful, free&fair democratic election
The military intervention followed a week-long political crisis sparked by Mugabe’s decision to fire his long-time ally Emmerson Mnangagwa as vice president in a move that paved the way for his wife Grace and her supporters to gain effective control over the ruling party. Nicknamed “Gucci Grace” in Zimbabwe for her extravagant lifestyle, she said on Nov. 5 that she’s prepared to succeed her husband.
The events unfolded as Zimbabwe is in deep crisis. The economy has halved in size since 2000 and the nation has no currency of its own, using mainly the dollar as legal tender. Lines of people waiting to make bank withdrawals snake around city blocks in Harare. Some sleep in the streets to ensure they’re served. An estimated 95 percent of the workforce is jobless and as many as 3 million Zimbabweans have gone into exile.
The country is now under military rule, said Alex Magaisa, a Zimbabwean law lecturer who is based in the U.K. and helped design Zimbabwe’s 2013 constitution.
“When you see a man in uniform reading news on national television, you know it’s done,” he said in a text message. “There are no more questions. Authority is now in the hands of the military.”
Mnangagwa, who said he fled Zimbabwe because of threats against him and his family, had been a pillar of a military and security apparatus that helped Mugabe emerge as the nation’s leader after independence from the U.K. in 1980. He was Zimbabwe’s first national security minister.
Mnangagwa’s dismissal signaled Mugabe’s break with most of his allies who fought in the liberation war against the white-minority regime of Rhodesia, leaving his 52-year-old wife’s so-called Generation-40 faction of younger members of the ruling party in the ascendancy.
While Zanu-PF named Mugabe as its presidential candidate, he’s appeared frail in public, sparking concern among his supporters that he wouldn’t be able to complete another five-year term.
Moyo, in the statement, told members of parliament that the military’s “desire is that a dispensation is created that allows you to serve your respective constituencies according to democratic tenants.”
— With assistance by Godfrey Marawanyika, and Brian Latham
- Bloomberg and Reuters
IN FULL: Statement from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces
A statement was posted from the military in the early hours of Wednesday morning on Zimbabwe Broadcasting website. Here it is‚ in full:
Fellow Zimbabweans‚ following the address we made on 13 November 2017 which we believe our main broadcaster‚ ZBC and The Herald were directed not to publicise‚ the situation in our country has moved to another level.
Firstly‚ we wish to assure the nation that His Excellency‚ The President‚ of the Republic of Zimbabwe‚ Head of State and Government and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces‚ Cde R.G Mugabe 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 in order to bring them to justice.
As soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.
To the civil servants: As you are aware‚ there is a plan by the same individuals to influence the current purging taking place in Zanu PF to the Civil service. We are against that act of injustice and we intend to protect everyone of you against it.
To the judiciary‚ the measures underway are intended to ensure that‚ as an independent arm of the state‚ you are able to exercise your independent authority without fear of being obstructed as has been the case with this group of individuals.
To our Members of Parliament: Your legislative role is of paramount importance for peace and stability in this country and it is our desire that a dispensation is created that allows you to serve your respective political constituencies according to democratic tenets.
To the generality of the people of Zimbabwe: We urge you to remain calm and limit unnecessary movement. However‚ we encourage those who are employed and those with essential business in the city to continue their normal activities as usual. Our wish is that you enjoy your rights and freedoms and that we return our country to a dispensation that allows for investment‚ development and prosperity that we all fought for and for which many of our citizens paid the supreme sacrifice.
To political parties; We urge you to discourage your members from engaging in violent behaviour.
To the youth: We call upon you to realise that the future of this country is yours. Do not be enticed with dirty coins of silver‚ be disciplined and remain committed to the ethos and values of this great nation.
To all Churches and religious organisations in Zimbabwe: We call upon you and your congregations to pray for our country and preach the gospel of love‚ peace‚ unity and development.
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. What the Zimbabwe Defence Forces is doing is to pacify a degenerating political‚ social and economic situation in our country which if not addressed may result in violent conflict.
We call upon all the war veterans to play a positive role in ensuring peace‚ stability and unity in the country.
To members of the Defence Forces: All leave is cancelled and you are all to return to your barracks with immediate effect.
To our respected Traditional leaders: You are the custodians of our culture‚ customs‚ traditions and heritage and we request you to provide leadership and direction to your communities for the sake of unity and development in our country.
To the other Security Services: We urge you to cooperate for the good of our country. Let it be clear that we intend to address the human security threats in our country. Therefore any provocation will be met with an appropriate response.
To the media; we urge you report fairly and responsibly.
- Statement ends -
- TMG Digital.