Zimbabwe’s army said Wednesday it has President Robert Mugabe and his wife in custody and is securing government offices and patrolling the capital’s streets following a night of unrest that included a military takeover of the state broadcaster.
The night’s action triggered speculation of a coup, but the military’s supporters praised it as a “bloodless correction.”
Armed soldiers in armored personnel carriers stationed themselves at key points in Harare, while Zimbabweans formed long lines at banks in order to draw the limited cash available, a routine chore in the country’s ongoing financial crisis. People looked at their phones to read about the army takeover and others went to work or to shops.
In an address to the nation after taking control of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, an army spokesman said early Wednesday the military is targeting “criminals” around Mugabe, and sought to reassure the country that order will be restored.
It was not clear where Mugabe, 93, and his wife were Wednesday but it seems they are in the custody of the military. “Their security is guaranteed,” the army spokesman said.
Overnight, at least three explosions were heard in the capital, Harare, and military vehicles were seen in the streets.
The military actions appear to put the army in control of the country. Army commander Constantino Chiwenga had threatened on Monday to “step in” to calm political tensions. Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party responded by accusing the general of “treasonable conduct.” But now Chiwenga appears to be in control.