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News Link • Africa: On the Map

Zimbabwe Coup: Mugabe Under House Arrest, Army Controls Media


93-year-old dictator Robert Mugabe's reign over Zimbabwe appears to be coming to an end, as the military has reportedly placed him under house arrest. Military forces have also seized control of state media, which they helpfully used to inform the public that "this is not a military takeover."

CNN reports that South African President Jacob Zuma confirmed that Mugabe is "unable to leave his home," which is surrounded by troops. The New York Times cites reports that he is in "custody" and under "house arrest."

Major General Sibusiso Moyo gave an address from the state-run (and evidently now military-run) Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation on Wednesday morning in which he insisted the security of Mugabe and his family was "guaranteed."

"We wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover," said General Moyo, seated in the news anchor's chair in his military uniform. "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. As soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect that the situation will return to normal."

British citizens in Zimbabwe were given similar guidance by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office early on Wednesday.

"Due to the uncertain political situation in Harare, including reports of unusual military activity, we recommend British nationals currently in Harare to remain safely at home or in their accommodation until the situation becomes clearer," the FCO said, referring to the capital city, which is currently patrolled by tanks and squads of soldiers.

Moyo spoke of a "plan by the same individuals to influence the current purging taking place in Zanu-PF to the civil service." This was a reference to the power struggle within Mugabe's party, which entered a critical stage when Mugabe sacked his deputy and one-time heir apparent Emmerson Mnangagwa, apparently in a bid to install his much younger wife Grace Mugabe as his successor.

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