The Zimbabwean military has taken over the state broadcaster, telling citizens that President Robert Mugabe is “safe and sound” and his “security is guaranteed” amid rumours of an ongoing coup.
The army however denied that it is carrying out a coup even as military activity in the streets continues to rise. “The situation in our country has moved to another level,” the officers said on national television, adding that “It is not a military takeover of government.”
“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…. Any provocation will be met with an appropriate response,” the army’s chief of staff Maj. Gen. S. B. Moyo said in the broadcast.
Watch broadcast below:
The Canadian Embassy in the state has advised its citizens to “remain indoors and monitor the media,” saying it will be closed today, November 15th.
There is increased military activity in Harare and the situation is tense. If you are in Harare, remain indoors and monitor the media. The Embassy will be closed November 15th.
— Canada in Zimbabwe (@CanEmbZimbabwe) November 15, 2017
New York Times reports that “around 6 a.m. on Wednesday, taxis were running on the main roads leading to central Harare and people seemed to be making their way to work. Some soldiers could be seen on the main roads but were not stopping commuters.”
Zimbabwe’s Army General Constantino Chiwenga had on Monday, threatened that the military could “step in” to protect the positions of ruling ZANU–PF members who fought to end UK’s rule over Zimbabwe.
His comments were seen as a response to President Robert Mugabe‘s sacking of vice-president Emerson Mnangagwa, who previously served as the defence and state security minister and fought in the liberation war.
Associated Press reports that the head of the war veterans’ group Chris Mutsvangwa, in a statement, backed Chiwenga’s action which he described as “a bloodless correction of gross abuse of power”.
Gunshots and explosions were heard in the streets of Harare hours before the takeover of the state broadcaster.
@AFP Close-up map of Harare showing the area where gunshots were heard near the presidential residence in the early hours of November 15.
Military takes to streets in Zimbabwe but denies coup https://t.co/7yQGTSja8u pic.twitter.com/u0h9L0aqqT
— AFP news agency (@AFP) November 15, 2017
Read the military statement in full (as published by Guardian):
Good morning Zimbabwe.
Fellow Zimbabweans. Following the address we made on 13 November 2017, which we believe our main broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and the Herald were directed not to publicise, the situation in our country has moved to another level.
Firstly we wish to assure our nation, His Excellency, the president of the republic of Zimbabwe and commander in chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, comrade 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 which is taking place in the political sphere. To the civil service, we are against that act of injustice and we intend to protect every one of you against that.
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, of 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 tenants.
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 will 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 the dirty coins of silver, be disciplined and remain committed to the efforts and values of this great nation.
To all churches and religious organisations in Zimbabwe we call upon your congregations to pray for our country and preach the gospel of love, peace and unity and development. To both our people and the world beyond our borders, we wish to make this abundantly clear 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 Zimbabwe Defence Forces, all leave is cancelled and you are all to return to your barracks with immediate effect.
To the other security forces, we urge you to cooperate for the good of our country. Let it be clear we intend to address the human security threats in our country. Therefore any provocation will be met with an appropriate response.
And to the media, we urge you to report fairly and responsibly.
We thank you.