Zimbabwe’s military says it had seized power in a targeted assault on 'criminals' around President Robert Mugabe. Graham Mackay reports.
After 37 years under President Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's military has seized control, but denies it's staging a coup. Hours after vehicles were spotted closing in on the capital, Harare, soldiers stormed the state broadcaster ZBC early on Wednesday (November 15), broadcasting a live message to the nation. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ZIMBABWE MILITARY SPOKESMAN, MAJOR GENERAL S.B. MOYO, SAYING: "The situation in our country has moved to another level." The army has outlined what it calls a mission, but, it says, the 93-year-old president isn't the target. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ZIMBABWE MILITARY SPOKESMAN, MAJOR GENERAL S.B. MOYO, SAYING: "Comrade R G Mugabe and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed. We are only targeting criminals around him around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice." Rumblings of a coup that could oust Mugabe began just 24 hours after the head of the army, General Constantino Chiwenga, threatened military intervention to end a purge of his allies from Mugabe's government. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ZIMBABWEAN ARMY GENERAL CONSTANTINO CHIWENGA, SAYING: "When it comes to matters of protecting our revolution the military will not hesitate to step in." The core victim of the purge, axed vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was kicked out last week in what's widely been seen as a move to clear the way for Mugabe's wife Grace to succeed her husband as president. The U.S. embassy in Harare is warning staff to stay at home due to political uncertainty. The self-styled 'Grand Old Man' of African politics has led the country for 37 years since its independence from Britain. He's widely celebrated on his home continent, a stark contrast to the West, where he's seen as a dictator who's ruined one of Africa's most promising economies, and is willing to resort to violence to stay in power.