Zimbabwe's army denies staging a coup, says President Mugabe is 'safe'

Wednesday, 15 Nov, 2017

The reports of explosions came after Zimbabwe's ruling party called Chiwenga's criticism of Mugabe's administration "treasonable" and meant to incite insurrection in the southern African nation.

According to eyewitnesses, gunfire erupted near Mugabe's private residence in Harare in the early hours of Wednesday.

Both the U.S. and British embassies in Zimbabwe have advised their nationals to stay indoors because of what they call the 'uncertain situation'.

Two workers for the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) and human rights worker claimed that the soldiers occupied the state broadcasters' headquarters here.

The incident began Tuesday evening when rumors of a coup or military show of force circulated as tanks and armored vehicles were seen heading toward Harare.

Zimbabwe's army confirmed on Wednesday that it has seized control in what it described as a targeted assault on "criminals" surrounding President Robert Mugabe.

Soldiers stand beside military vehicles just outside Harare, Zimbabwe Nov. 14, 2017.

In an incendiary statement, Mugabe's ZANU-PF party accused army chief General Constantino Chiwenga of "treasonable conduct" for challenging Mugabe over the recent sacking of the vice president.

The US embassy in the capital said it would be closed on Wednesday due to the "uncertainty", while advising US citizens to "shelter in place".

Some sources in Harare said Mugabe had invited General Chiwenga to the office for discussions earlier in the day, but that the invitation was ignored and that the president later made a decision to sack the general after the armoured troop carriers arrived in Harare late in the afternoon.

It is not clear who is leading the military action.

Neither the president nor his wife responded in public to the general's remarks and state media did not publish Chiwenga's statement.

Earlier on Tuesday Kudzai Chipanga, the leader of Zanu-PF's youth wing, accused Gen Chiwenga of stealing billions of rands and said his movement would act to protect the president.

The former junior administrator is detested by numerous independence-era war veterans, who once enjoyed a privileged role in the ruling party under Mugabe, but who have increasingly been banished from senior government and party roles in recent years.

The country is now struggling to pay for imports due to a dollar crunch, which is also sparking rampant inflation only ten years after it suffered a financial implosion caused when the central bank began to print money.

Magaisa, the former political aide, said the treatment of those being detained will be telling of what comes next.

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.

Zanu-PF, Mugabe's party, gave a statement denying there had been a coup. A coup would be a very hard sell at home and in the global community. Residents from different parts of the city said they had not noticed any unusual events or unusual presence of the army or police.