Zimbabwe: What's happening?

Situation remains tense as President Robert Mugabe refuses to step down amid pressure on him to quit.

    Zimbabweans woke up to uncertainty on Friday amid reports that President Robert Mugabe has refused to step down.

    Earlier this week, South African state media reported that "it has reliably learnt that Zimbabwe is likely to have a transitional government" in the wake of a military takeover.

    This came after soldiers on Wednesday took control of the headquarters of the state broadcaster ZBC and blocked access to government offices, but the army says this is not a military takeover.

    President Robert Mugabe, who leads the ruling Zanu-PF party, is safe, an army spokesman said.

    But as yet, there is no official word from the government or the Mugabe family as to their whereabouts.

    South African President Jacob Zuma said he talked to his close ally Mugabe, who told him he is safe but confined to his home.

    The unfolding crisis comes amid an apparent bid to expand the Mugabe dynasty.

    First Lady Grace Mugabe is said to be eyeing the vice presidency after President Mugabe sacked Emmerson Mnangagwa, an ally of the army, on November 8. 

    Opinion: Mugabe - Between the wife and the loyal lieutenant

    In Harare, hope and uncertainty after army takeover

    Who are the key players in the Zimbabwe crisis?

    How are people in Zimbabwe and the world reacting? 

    Profile: Who is Robert Mugabe?

    Read the military's statement in full

    Robert Mugabe's most famous quotes

    Friday, November 17: The Latest

    Harare residents urged to take part in anti-Mugabe rally

    • A poster circulating in the Zimbabwean capital is calling on citizens to participate in a march on Saturday to "remove Mugabe from power."

    • Calls for the rally to the State House say both the military and the opposition are behind it.

    • "We can't have a 93-year-old person ruling more than 15 million people," the poster says.

    Tillerson calls for return to civilian rule

    • The US secretary of state has called the developments in Zimbabwe a "concern", urging "a quick return" to civilian rule.

    • "Zimbabwe has an opportunity to set itself on a new path, one that must include democratic elections and respect for human rights," Rex Tillerson told foreign ministers from African countries ahead of a meeting in Washington, DC.

    'His time is up'

    • Temba Mliswa, an expelled ZANU-PF member and independent parliamentarian, says if Mugabe refuses to step down, a motion to pass a no-confidence vote will be put before parliament at its next sitting on Tuesday.

    • "He is an old man, he is sick and he is in a state of shock so he needs to digest the news because he never imagined this day would come," Mliswa told Al Jazeera.

    • "He can no longer resist, he should know his time is up," added Mliswa.

    'Mugabe will not be allowed to stay in office'

    • Chris Mutsvangwa, the leader of Zimbabwe's influential war veterans, said on Friday that Mugabe would not be allowed to resist the military and remain in power.

    • Mutsvangwa added that the veterans saluted Zimbabwe's military for seizing power earlier in the week.

    Botswana president tells Mugabe to go

    • Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe should end his attempts to remain in office after the military seized power this week as he has no regional diplomatic support to stay in power, Botswana President Ian Khama said on Friday.

    • The military intervention, which political sources say could pave the way to a national unity government after 37 years of Mugabe rule, also presented "an opportunity to put Zimbabwe on a path to peace and prosperity", Khama told Reuters news agency. 

    • "I don't think anyone should be president for that amount of time," he said. "We are presidents, we are not monarchs. It's just common sense."

    Mugabe in first public appearance since army takeover

    • Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has appeared in public for the first time since the army's takeover on Wednesday.

    • Mugabe, who was believed to be under house arrest, attended a university graduation ceremony in Harare on Friday, where he announced the opening of the event. 

    • Zimbabwe's military said it was engaging in talks with President Robert Mugabe on a path forward, promising an update on the outcome soon.

    • The military also reported significant progress in an operation targeting "criminals" linked to the president.

    • Mugabe has refused to resign, despite pressure from the country's opposition.

    Thursday, November 16: The Latest

    Mugabe meets South African delegation at state house

    • Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, two cabinet ministers and the head of the military met South African envoys on Thursday in his office, the state Herald newspaper said.
    • Photos on the newspaper's website showed Mugabe, General Constantino Chiwenga; Sydney Sekeramayi, Zimbabwe defence minister; and Kembo Mohadi, Zimbabwe state security minister, speaking to South African officials alongside Catholic priest Fidelis Mukonori.
    • The South African officials in the photos included Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the defence minister, and Bongani Bongo, the state security minister.

    Zimbabwe opposition leader says Mugabe must resign

    • Morgan Tsvangirai said President Robert Mugabe must resign in the interest of the people of the country.
    • The opposition leader said that a post-election framework is needed to guarantee stability and that the southern African regional bloc and the African Union should be "underwriters" of it.
    • Tsvangirai said he has not been approached to be part of any transitional mechanism but "if we are approached to negotiate such a process, we will participate".
    • Tsvangirai shared power with Mugabe between 2009 and 2013 before losing disputed elections. He has been receiving treatment for cancer.

    South Africa's Zuma: Zimbabwe situation will become clear shortly

    • President Jacob Zuma told parliament on Thursday that Zimbabwe's situation "very shortly will be becoming clear".
    • Zuma has been in contact with Mugabe and on Wednesday said he hoped the military takeover will not "lead to unconstitutional changes of government".
    • Meanwhile, a delegation from Pretoria has arrived in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, to find a way out of the political impasse.

    As Zimbabwe crisis enters second day, discussions and detentions

    • Regional officials are making efforts to solve the crisis, as our journalist in Harare reports.

    • A local mediation team that includes two government officials and a Catholic priest are reportedly involved in talks to find a solution to Mugabe's confinement.

    • People on the streets shied away from commenting, but Cletus Mubaiwa, 29, an electrical engineer, told Al Jazeera he hoped Mugabe's impasse with the army would be resolved peacefully.

    • Some government offices that were closed have re-opened.

    • Meanwhile, several of Mugabe's top ministers, including Minister of Finance Ignatius Chombo, are currently being detained by the army at the King George VI military barracks.

    • Zanu-PF National Youth League Secretary, Kudzanai Chipanga who is also being held at the military barracks, publicly apologised to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General, Constantino Chiwenga, for castigating the general's call for Mugabe to stop purges within the ruling party.

    Major developments overnight and Thursday morning

    • On Wednesday evening, Zimbabwe state media urged all civil servants, business owners and traders to go to work on Thursday.

    • The mood on Thursday morning, according to Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa in Harare, was "calm and quiet" with "some people already heading to school and work". 

    • Catholic priest Fidelis Mukonori, the man who acts as chaplain to Mugabe and his family, is attempting to negotiate the "political exit" of the 94-year-old leader. But Mugabe insists he can only be removed through a party leadership vote. 

    • Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, has returned to Harare after reportedly undergoing cancer treatment in South Africa. He is expected to deliver a statement later today. 

    • No information has been divulged regarding Mugabe's whereabouts as of Thursday morning. 
    People queue to draw money outside a bank in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 15, 2017 [Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters]

    Wednesday, November 15: The latest

    • #ThisFlag, a citizens' movement protesting against Mugabe's rule, has called for calm and the protection of all Zimbabweans following the army's takeover of power.

    • "In order to see a better Zimbabwe that we all want, we must now stand together. There has never been a more opportune time to be united than now," the movement said in a statement on Wednesday.

    • "Zimbabwe needs you to remain calm but hopeful, Zimbabwe needs you to support and encourage each other," the statement added.

    Zimbabwean lawmaker: Army takeover constitutional

    • A Zimbabwean legislator has claimed the move by the country's military to seize power and "confine President Robert Mugabe to his house" is constitutional.

    • Temba Mliswa, an independent member of parliament, said the army took power because of instability in the country caused by First Lady Grace Mugabe.

    • "For some outside the country it is bad news, but for those in Zimbabwe, it is good news because this is a timely intervention by the military and it is constitutional," Mliswa told Al Jazeera.

    • "The constitution clearly talks about the role of the military in terms of being the ones to protect the national security, interest and territorial integrity of the country. They are within their gambit to do what they are doing because there was instability in the country as a result of the first lady usurping powers from the president.

    • "The people of Zimbabwe elected Robert Mugabe as president, not Grace Mugabe. The military are there to restore law and order."

    In Harare, uncertainty and optimism after army takeover

    On the streets of Zimbabwe's capital, guarded optimism and concern about the future dominate discussions after the army's seizure of power. Read more here.

    AU: Zimbabwe crisis 'seems like a coup'

    • The African Union (AU) chief said the political crisis in Zimbabwe "seems like a coup", while calling on the military to restore constitutional order.
    • Alpha Conde, who is also Guinea's president, said the AU condemned the actions of army leaders in the country as "clearly soldiers trying to take power by force".
    • "The African Union expresses its serious concern regarding the situation unfolding in Zimbabwe," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

    Amnesty calls on army to safeguard people's rights

    • Amnesty International, the global advocacy group, has called on Zimbabwe's army to protect the rights of people during the current political uncertainty.

    • "It is essential that the military ensure the safety and security of all people in Zimbabwe - regardless of their political allegiance - and refrain from any action that puts lives and human rights at risk," said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty's Southern Africa director.

    • "The military takeover should not be used as an excuse to undermine Zimbabwe's international and regional human rights obligations and commitments."

    Who's who?

    • We have explained who's who in the Zimbabwe crisis, from the Mugabes and sacked Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to the army and the war veterans. Read more here.

    UK's Boris Johnson: Nobody wants to see transition from one unelected tyrant to next

    • Boris Johnson, Britain's foreign secretary, said in a statement: "It's hard to say exactly how this will turn out. Everybody wants to see a stable and successful Zimbabwe. We are appealing for everyone to refrain from violence, that is the crucial thing."

    • Earlier in parliament, he had a more colourful tone saying: "Nobody wants simply to see the transition from one unelected tyrant to a next."

    SADC weighs in

    • The Southern African Development Community (SADC), a regional body, said it has noted the political situation in Zimbabwe with "great concern", adding it hopes the situation "will not lead to unconstitutional changes of government".

    • SADC called on the army and government to solve the crisis "amicably".

    • Earlier, South African President Zuma, in his capacity as SADC chairman, said he was sending special envoys to Zimbabwe and Angola in light of the crisis. Angola chairs SADC's peace and security arm.

    Opposition member: Zimbabweans are happy

    • Lovemore Chinoputsa, a member of the opposition Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) party, said earlier on Wednesday: "It's a sign of relief to Zimbabweans. From the look of things, Zimbabweans are happy that there has been a stop to the family dynasty agenda that was being propagated by Robert Mugabe and his wife."
    • MDC on Tuesday called on people to defend civilian rule in the country following the army's threat.

    War veterans support army, say Zanu-PF 'taken back'

    • The war veterans met earlier in the day and gave a press conference.

    • "We urge that Robert Gabriel Mugabe should be recalled from his role as the president and first secretary of ZANU-PF. We also want to facilitate good and proper running of political parties in the forthcoming elections," said Victor Matemadanda, the war veterans' leader.
    • "On the streets, people are waiting to see if this is going to happen," said Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa in Harare.

    • War veterans, who fought alongside Mugabe during the 1970s struggle for liberation against Britain and spearheaded the repossession of white-owned commercial farms in the 2000s, regularly claim that Mugabe has betrayed the revolution.

    Secretary-General of Zimbabwe's War Veterans Association, Victor Matemadanda, addresses a news conference [Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters]

    'No military takeover'

    • The Herald newspaper released a special edition, given the dramatic events of the day.

    • The afternoon edition's headline is: "The Herald: No military takeover"

    • An earlier edition read: "Zanu-PF unfazed by Chiwenga", referring to the army commander who has challenged Mugabe.

    Is Grace Mugabe in Namibia?

    • Sky News has reported that, according to sources, Grace Mugabe believed to be in Namibia. Al Jazeera is unable to confirm this report, as yet.

    • Grace is the first lady and is at the centre the crisis. 

    • You can read more about Grace Mugabe in a recent pre-crisis feature here.

    • The Namibian Sun, an English-language newspaper, tweeted a statement from the government that did not mention Grace.

    • The statement said Namibia has been following the "unfolding developments in Zimbabwe with concern".

    • "Namibia is concerned that the present situation in Zimbabwe creates uncertainty that is not conducive to peace, stability and consolidation of democracy in Zimbabwe and the region as a whole."

    Zuma speaks to Mugabe

    • The office of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has said Mugabe has indicated that "he was confined to his home but said that he was fine".

    • In a statement posted online, the office said South Africa is in touch with the Zimbabwe military. "President Zuma has reiterated his call for calm and restraint and for the ZDF [military] to ensure that peace and stability are not undermined in Zimbabwe," the statement said.

    • In his address, which was broadcast later on Wednesday, South African President Zuma said: "Given the seriousness of the situation, I have taken the decision to send an envoy to be able to conduct the leaders of the defence force who have undertaken these operations, but also to meet with President Mugabe so that we have a [clearer] picture of what is happening."

    'It's an inside-the-party coup'

    • Professor David Moore, speaking from Johannesburg, told Al Jazeera: "It is an inside-the-party coup. The president has not been deposed. People are being arrested, the G-40 people are being arrested, but the G-40 never had the army in their hands. It's relatively peaceful so far." The G-40 is Grace Mugabe's political faction. 

    • On whether or not Mugabe will be deposed, Moore said: "I don't think Mugabe will be deposed. I think the plan will be as is indicated in Chiwenga's speech on Monday night to guarantee that the extraordinary congress, which is set up for the end of December this year instead of next year. In other words, before the election of July next year which was planned by G-40. I think Mugabe will see the way the wind is blowing. He's very, very good at keep[ing] his finger to the winds of these conflicts.

    Zuma to speak

    • Al Jazeera has learned that South African President Jacob Zuma is expected to speak at 11:00 GMT. We will bring you that speech, as and when it happens, at aljazeera.com/live.

    • There is a significant number of Zimbabweans living in South Africa. 

    • Mugabe and Zuma maintain good relations and are close allies.

    Foreign guests leave hotel

    • A journalist in Harare, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Al Jazeera that foreign hotel guests at the Cresta Lodge in Harare were leaving.

    • Earlier the US and UK had warned their citizens in Harare against attending demonstrations or discussing the president.

    Armed soldiers on the road leading to Mugabe's office in Harare [Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/The Associated Press]

    Flights operational

    • Trevor Ncube, a Zimbabwean businessman living in South Africa, said flights in and out of Zimbabwe were operating as usual. Ncube is verified on Twitter, and is a critical voice on Mugabe. "Air Zimbabwe took off for Bulawayo this morning and the SAA flight from Harare landed a while ago," he tweeted.

    • Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa, reporting from Harare, confirmed that airports were open as usual.

    Fears over economy

    • For many Zimbabweans, the first priority was to head to the banks. Images sent to Al Jazeera showed queues of people waiting to be addressed by banking staff on the situation over cash withdrawals.
    • Martin Muradzikwa, a mobile phone shop owner in Harare, told Al Jazeera he feared clashes between soldiers and Mugabe loyalists would break out.

    • Main branches of international banks were closed, due to their proximity to government buildings.

    Arrests

    • Several high-profile, Zanu-PF individuals have been detained and those at large are being pursued, according to reports. 

    'No outward panic'

    • Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa, reporting from Harare, said the atmosphere on the streets felt tense. "I don't think people expected this kind of military takeover. I'm Zimbabwean, I was born after independence from Britain, I've never experienced this kind of feeling in the air. At the moment, people are just wondering what is going to happen next."

    • Mutasa also said, however, that it was business as usual for now. "There's no outward panic, you're not seeing people running away or fleeing." 

    Newspaper headline: Zanu-PF unfazed

    • Zimbabwean newspaper The Herald ran with the headline: "Zanu-PF unfazed by Chiwenga", referring to the army general.

    Where is Mugabe?

    • As yet, there is no official comment from the government or the Mugabe family as to the president's whereabouts.

    UK, US warns citizens in Harare

    • The US and UK have advised their citizens in Harare, the capital, to stay indoors amid the uncertainty. "You should avoid political activity, or activities which could be considered political, including political discussions in public places and criticism of the president," Britain warned.

    • The US embassy in Harare tweeted: "Due to ongoing uncertainty in Zimbabwe, the U.S. Embassy in Harare will be minimally staffed and closed to the public on November 15.  Embassy personnel will continue to monitor the situation closely. @StateDept"

    Military: We are targeting criminals

    • In a televised address early on Wednesday morning, military spokesperson, Major General SB Moyo, said the army was seeking to "pacify a degenerating, social, and economic situation", and denied a coup.  

    • "We are only targeting criminals around [Mugabe] and are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country, in order to bring them to justice," he said. You can read the statement in full here.

    Military seizes state TV

    • On Wednesday, November 15, the Zimbabwe army seized state TV and blocked off access to government offices.

    • This came after reports of explosions and gunfire the previous evening.

    A young man washes a minibus adorned with picture of President Robert Mugabe at a bus terminus in Harare [Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters]

    What had happened until Wednesday? The backstory

    • Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, an ally of the army chief and a veteran of the country's struggle for independence, was sacked on November 8 by 93-year-old Mugabe for showing "traits of disloyalty".

    • Mnangagwa, who fled the country soon after, was seen as a likely successor to the ailing president, and his ousting now appears to pave the way for First Lady Grace Mugabe.

    • Army commander Constantino Chiwenga said on Monday, November 13, that the military would act if purges against former war liberation fighters did not cease.

    • Zanu-PF on November 14 accused the army chief of "treasonable conduct" after he challenged Mugabe over the sacking of the vice president.

    • On Tuesday, November 14, the youth wing of ZANU-PF party, said it was "ready to die" for Mugabe, after the military threat to intervene.

    • There were unconfirmed reports of explosions and shooting in the capital, Harare, on Tuesday evening. 

    This file photo taken on November 13 shows Chiwenga [Jekesai Njikizana/AFP]

    War veterans and Mugabe supporters:

    • War veterans, who fought alongside Mugabe during the 1970s liberation struggle and spearheaded the repossession of white-owned commercial farms in the 2000s, claim Mugabe has betrayed the revolution.

    • The ongoing purges of scores of Mnangagwa allies have widened the rift between the Mugabes and various groups of war veteran leaders.

    • Victor Matemadanda, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe National War Veterans Association, recently told Al Jazeera the ongoing expulsions were a strong indication that Mugabe was acting in his own interests and those of his wife.

    Mugabe with his wife, Grace, at a youth interface rally in the second city of Bulawayo on November 4 [Tendai Marima/Al Jazeera]

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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