Zimbabwe army denies military takeover in live state TV address

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The Zimbabwe military officers said in a live address on state TV in the early hours of Wednesday that they were not launching a coup but were “targeting criminals around President Robert Mugabe”. A military spokesperson interfered taped programming on state television to deny reports of a coup in the early hours of Wednesday.

The Major General S.B. Moyo said on broadcaster ZBC that “To both our people and the world beyond our borders, we wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover of government. What the Zimbabwe Defense Forces is doing is to pacify a degenerating political, social and economic situation in our country, which if not addressed may result in a violent conflict”. He requested the public to remain composed but “limit unnecessary movement”. Just hours before the announcement, eyewitnesses reported witnessing around 100 troops on the streets of downtown Harare. This abrupt appearance of soldiers in the capital comes during the rise in political tensions following Mugabe’s shocking sacking of his deputy, powerful Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

According to the observers, the military has been very careful not to call their steps a takeover, but that appears to be what is actually displaying. Alex Magaisa, a former political aide to ex-Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, told CNN, “This is a coup by any other name. They might be trying to give a fig leaf to the notion that President Mugabe is still the leader. But de facto they are obviously the military force.” While reading a statement, a general said that “It is not a military takeover of government. We wish to assure the nation that his Excellency the president… and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed”.

“We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes… As soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect that the situation will return to normalcy,” it added. A witness told AFP that lengthened fire exploded near Mugabe’s private residence in the suburb of Borrowdale early Wednesday.

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