EXPLOSIONS rocked Zimbabwe’s capital tonight after its army’s top commander threatened to “step in” to calm tensions over dictator Robert Mugabe’s possible successor.
Soldiers in Harare also seized the state broadcaster after President Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party accused the head of the military of treason – sparking frenzied speculation of an imminent coup.
Twitter / @AmichaiStein1 An image posted online purporting to show armoured personnel carriers outside the capital city Reuters Soldiers stand beside military vehicles just outside Harare, Zimbabwe Twitter / @AmichaiStein1 The vehicles were spotted a day after the leader of the military threatened to attempt a coup AFP or licensors Robert Mugabe, 93, pictured with his wife Grace who it’s believed is hoping to take over the country’s leadership
After seizing the broadcaster, however, the army announced it was not “a military takeover”, and confirmed that Mugabe and his family were “safe and sound”.
“We are only targeting criminals around who him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice,” the army said.
“As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”
The country’s ruling party Zanu-PF party had earlier accused the head of the country’s army of “treasonable conduct”.
Twitter / @AmichaiStein1 It’s not yet clear why the vehicles have been brought into the city
Where have social media posts reported military activity in #Harare #Zimbabwe? #mugabe #coup pic.twitter.com/TYCKZ6teDv
— Intelligence Fusion (@IntellFusion) November 14, 2017
The country has been on edge since Monday when Constantino Chiwenga, Commander of Zimbabwe Defence Forces, said he was prepared to “step in” as a power struggle gripped the African nation.
That unprecedented statement represented a sharp escalation of the rumbling rows over who will succeed President Robert Mugabe, 93, who has been in power since the country gained independence from Britain in 1980.
After a hastily-called cabinet meeting, ZANU-PF said it stood by the “primacy of politics over the gun” and accused Chiwenga of trying to disturb the country’s peace and stability.
Mugabe fired Vice President Emerson Mnangagwa last week. The veteran of the country’s 1970s liberation war was popular with the military and had been seen as a likely successor to unpopular Mugabe.
The army views his removal as part of a purge of independence-era figures to pave the way for Mugabe to hand power to his wife Grace Mugabe.
Four tanks were spotted heading towards the Zimbabwe capital Harare raising fears of a coup attempt in a country ruled by Robert Mugabe for 37 years.
A witness saw two other tanks parked beside the main road from Harare to Chinhoyi, about 14 miles from the city. One, which was pointed in the direction of the capital, had come off its tracks.
Isaac Moyo, Zimbabwe’s ambassador to neighbouring South Africa, dismissed any talk of a coup, saying the government in Harare was “intact” and blaming social media for spreading false information.
“There’s nothing really happening. They are just social media claims,” Moyo told Reuters, in Harare’s first official response to the rumours.
Earlier today the youth wing of Zimbabwe’s ruling party accused the military chief of subverting the constitution for threatening to intervene.
In an unprecedented step, Chiwenga, openly threatened to intervene in politics yesterday if the purge of war veterans did not stop.
AP:Associated Press A street scene along Robert Mugabe road in Harare tonight Despot Robert Mugabe’s playboy son pours £200 champagne over his £45,000 diamond-encrusted watch
In a statement, he said: “We must remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that, when it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in.”
Grace Mugabe, 52, has developed a strong following in the powerful youth wing of the ruling ZANU-PF party.
Her rise has brought her into conflict with the 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 British embassy in Zimbabwe warned Brits to stay indoors “until the situation becomes clearer”
The US Embassy in Zimbabwe says it will be closed to the public on Wednesday because of “ongoing uncertainty” in the capital.
The embassy announced the closure on Twitter early Wednesday, shortly after at least three explosions were heard in Harare and military vehicles were seen in the streets. The embassy says it will remain “minimally staffed.”