Zimbabwe’s military took control of the country and its longtime leader President Robert Mugabe early Wednesday, capping a political showdown over Mugabe’s apparent attempts to install his wife as successor.
A televised announcement after tanks and troops rolled into the capital, Harare, insisted it was “not a military takeover.”
Despite the assurances, the events bore all the hallmarks of a coup, with military vehicles stationed around the city, the army taking over the television station and a uniformed general issuing a statement.
The move by army Gen. Constantino Chiwenga came as the struggle over who will succeed the country’s increasingly frail 93-year-old leader came to a head. Mugabe has ruled since he led the country to independence from white minority rule in 1980.
“We wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover,” said the statement read by Maj. Gen. Sibusiso Moyo. “We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country.”
“Mugabe and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed,” said Moyo. Mugabe’s offices had a tank blocking the road in front of it and large numbers of soldiers milling around.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Paul Schemm