#ThrowBack: Military steps in, denies coup

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November 15, 2017

THE Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) on November 14, 2017 seized the State broadcaster ZBC-TV and told the nation their action was targeted at “criminals” surrounding President Robert Mugabe.

By Staff Reporter

But in a statement read out by Major General Sibusiso Moyo, which came a few hours after the army besieged Pockets Hill, the ZBC headquarters, the State security agents indicated this was not “a military takeover of government”, adding Mugabe was safe.

The move also followed a State media black-out of ZDF commander General Constantino Chiwenga’s Press statement on Monday in which he called the 93-year-old Mugabe to order and directed him to stop the on-going purge on former Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s allies ahead of Zanu PF’s extra-ordinary congress next month.

Chiwenga had, in the statement, warned that the threat to the nation and Zanu PF by “counter-revolutionaries” in the ruling party could force the army to “step in”.

He made four key demands that he said Mugabe should urgently fulfil, failure which the army could “step in”, which were “to stop reckless utterances by politicians from the ruling party denigrating the military which is causing alarm and despondency within the rank and file; that the current purging which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith; that the known counter-revolutionary elements who have fomented the current instability in the party must be exposed and fished out; and, as the party goes for the extra-ordinary congress, members must go with equal opportunity to exercise their democratic rights.”

NewsDay reporters heard heavy gunfire and at the police armoury at Chikurubi Support Unit, where the elite police unit is stationed, and parts of the leafy of Harare, early today.

Maj Gen Moyo said: “We wish to assure the nation that His Excellency, the President Robert Gabriel Mugabe and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed. We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes . . . that are causing social and economic suffering in the country. As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”

Although Moyo could not name the army’s targets, NewsDay understands that Finance minister Ignatius Chombo, who is also Zanu PF secretary for administration, Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo, party commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, Central Intelligence Organisation deputy director Albert Miles Ngulube, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri were arrested with little resistance at their homes. There was no official confirmation.

But other security sources claim Kasukuwere and Moyo had sought refuge at Mugabe’s Blue Roof mansion. Moyo also urged Zimbabweans to remain calm and limit unnecessary movement. The military assured the Judiciary that its independence was guaranteed, and that the security services should “co-operate for the good of our country” and any provocation would “be met with an appropriate response”. The army cancelled all leave for the defence forces and ordered personnel to return to barracks immediately.

Western embassies have issued warnings for the nationalities in “Harare to remain safely at home or in their accommodation until the situation becomes clearer”.

“We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes . . . that are causing social and economic suffering in the country. As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy,” Moyo said.

A defiant Chiwenga, who was flanked by Zimbabwe National Army commander Lieutenant General Philip Valerio Sibanda, Air Vice Marshal Elson Moyo and army chief of staff (administration) Major General Douglas Nyikayaramba at the Monday Press conference addressed nearly 100 major generals, brigadier generals, wing commanders and senior army commanders raising concerns about the dismissal of Mnangagwa and other senior party officials with liberation war credentials.

“It is with great humility and a heavy heart that we come before you to pronounce the indisputable reality that there is instability in Zanu PF today and, as a result, anxiety in the country at large. What is obtaining in the revolutionary party is a direct result of the machinations of counter-revolutionaries who have infiltrated the party and whose agenda is to destroy it from within,” Chiwenga said.

“It is saddening to see the revolution being hijacked by agents of our erstwhile enemies who are now on the brink of returning our country to foreign domination against which so many of our people perished.”
The military boss threatened retribution on all Zanu PF counter-revolutionaries bent on “destroying the party from within”, in apparent reference to the Tsholotsho North legislator, Moyo.

He is a leading figure in Zanu PF’s G40 faction that engineered Mnangagwa’s recent expulsion from both government and the ruling party on allegations of disloyalty, deceitfulness, attempts to usurp power from Mugabe among others.

Other key members of the G40 faction include First Lady Grace Mugabe, Zanu PF national political commissar Kasukuwere and Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko. Mnangagwa reportedly leads a rival faction Team Lacoste over Mugabe’s succession.

The belligerent military, hitherto seen as a malleable tool in Mugabe’s hands, was believed to be sympathetic to Mnangagwa’s bid to succeed the 93-year-old leader and was, until his expulsion, a leading contender.

Mugabe has already been endorsed as Zanu PF presidential candidate for the 2018 election, but with the new turn of events, the veteran leader could be challenged by Mnangagwa at next month’s elective congress.

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