Political turmoil in Zimbabwe deteriorated, raising the question of whether 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe should remain in power after being in office for nearly four decades.
Zimbabwe’s military convoys could be seen driving in Harare on Tuesday, as rumours of a coup attempt were triggered a day after the country’s military chief, surrounded by other senior officers, warned that he was ready to “step in” to end the turmoil in the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).
In the early hours of Wednesday, the army seized control of the country, stating that they were “targetting criminals” around Mugabe, who is the only leader Zimbabwe has known for its 37 years of independence.
A sudden appearance of troops in the capital came amid mounting political tensions following Mugabe’s sacking of Vice President Emerson Menganagawa.
Nevertheless, the armed forces made a statement that they still consider Mugabe the commander in chief of the armed forces.
“We assure the nation that his excellency the president and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed. We are only targetting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country,” said Major General of the Army General Sibusiso Moyo.
He added saying, “as soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”
On Monday, Zimbabwe’s military head, General Constantine Chiwenga, stated in a press conference that no matter what happens in the country, the military will always step in to protect the revolution.
However, in response to the conference, Mugabe’s political party, ZANU-PF, accused Chiwenga of “treasonable conduct.”
It is said that Mugabe sacked Menganagawa, who is a veteran of Zimbabwe’s liberation fight, as an attempt to place his wife, Grace Mugabe, as his successor, which made several military officers and veterans of the liberation war concerned about her rise in the ZANU-PF.
The situation in the country is currently deteriorating, as several witnesses reported hearing explosions in Harare, which made the US embassy there warn its citizens and close its doors on Wednesday.