Zimbabwean military has deposed President Robert Mugabe after 38 years
The military of Zimbabwe has placed the country’s leader, Robert Mugabe, under house arrest which has telling signs of a military coup. Mugabe has been the unopposed leader of the country since becoming independent in 1980.
Representatives of the Military announced on national television that they had taken custody of Mugabe and both he and his family are “safe and sound, their security is assured.”
Maj. Gen. Sibusiso Moyo of the Zimbabwean army went on to state that this wasn’t an attempt to unseat him or usurp power and that they were only “targeting criminals around him committing crimes that are leading to economic and social suffering in the country and bring them to justice. And as soon as we accomplish this mission, we expect the situation to return to being normal again.”
The military took control of the state-run broadcasting network, ZBS, and made the announcement on television.
Experts, however, say that the information is limited thus making it difficult to get a clear grasp on the state of things.
93-year-old President Robert Mugabe has held onto control of the country for the better part of half a century since gaining from the British. He has been a ruthless leader who, time and time again, has cracked down violently on public protests as well as the press while managing a faltering economy seeing unemployment rates close to 85 percent! (In 2008, the government was forced to print notes of $200 million because prices escalated rapidly due to hyperinflation.)
Zimbabwe is formally a democracy claiming that it operates as one. But local and international observers have proved this isn’t the case with evidence of Mugabe rigging national elections in his favor.
A major concern here is Mugabe’s health, which appears to be declining. The argument over who would take over the responsibilities after he dies or has to step down is leading to the signs of an impending power struggle among Zimbabwe’s inner circle and elites. Zimbabwe’s highest ranked general, Gen. Constantine Chiwenga, shocked the public by stating that the military wouldn’t “hesitate to intervene” in order to “protect the revolution.” It’s likely that the internal power struggle which may have, in fact, triggered the military coup.
The long-running president clearly wants his wife, Grace Mugabe, to succeed him as Zimbabwe’s next ruler. This has been made evident by the firing of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, an ally of the military and Chiwenga. Mnangagwa has since fled to South Africa with a promise that he would be challenging Mugabe’s rule.
According to Associated Press, Chiwenga was in China (a Zimbabwean ally) this past week to meet with military officials. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang, when asked if they were aware of Gen. Chiwenga’s plans for a military takeover, said that he was “not aware of the details.”
For now, the situation in Harare appears to be calm. NYT reported that people were on their way to work, taxis were plying on road, and soldiers present on the streets did not appear to be interfering with people’s routines and whereabouts.