Zimbabwe’s military detained President Robert Mugabe within his residence in Harare early Wednesday, according to local reports.
Local Harare residents reported gunshots near Mugabe’s residence in the lead up to their surrounding Mugabe’s private residence. The military have denied that their actions are part of a coup at this stage. Zimbabwe’s military also took control of state broadcaster ZBC, a mouthpiece for Mugabe’s regime.
In a televised statement on the statement, Major General Sibusiso Moyo justified the extraordinary move, stating that “the situation in our country has moved to another level.” This statement was in reference to ongoing political tensions between Mugabe and the military, as well as the deteriorating state of affairs more broadly.
The military personnel went on to explain explain that Mugabe was safe and that their security was ‘guaranteed’. They also denied that the move was a coup designed to overthrow Mugabe and his government. Moyo read, as part of his statement on ZBC:
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.
Several senior members of Mugabe’s government had been arrested as part of the military’s action on Wednesday. These figures included minister for local government, Saviour Kasukuwere, finance minister Ignatius Chombo, and Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwayo.
Zimbabwe’s military made their move against Mugabe as a result of the sacking of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week. The Vice President had strong ties to General Constantino Chigwenga. Mugabe’s decision to sack Mnangagwa was likely a move to consolidate his own grip on power, which has been increasingly tenuous in recent years.
It has been strongly rumoured that the move was taken in order to clear the path for Grace Mugabe, the wife of Robert, to take the position and be next in line for the presidency. Mugabe’s health has deteriorated in recent years and he had been exploring options for a plan of succession.