The army has taken over control in Zimbabwe, confining 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe to his house.
Last night, the Zimbabwean defence forces seized control of the state broadcaster ZBC, with their spokesman Maj Gen Sibusiso Moyo issuing a statement declaring that President Mugabe was safe as they were “targeting criminals” around him.
“We wish to make this abundantly clear this is not a military takeover of government. What the Zimbabwe defence forces is doing is to pacify a degenerating political, social and economic situation in our country, which if not addressed may result in violent conflict,” said Maj Gen Moyo.
Meanwhile, Grace Mugabe, who was being positioned to eventually take over from her husband, is rumoured to have fled to Namibia.
But the statement made it clear the army had acted in response to a purge of ZANU-PF members, including the vice-president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was sacked by President Mugabe last week, and had been angered by the failure of state media to report on a warning issued by the army chief, Gen Constantine Chiwenga, on Monday.
Armoured vehicles and troops this morning blocked roads in central Harare around government buildings and the presidential residence.
But in a statement issued by Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda today, President Lungu, who is on a state visit to Egypt, called for a quick resolution to the crisis.
“We are carefully monitoring the evolving situation in Zimbabwe. We are maintaining open lines of communication with the administration and exchanging with our other regional neighbours. I have encouraged all parties in Zimbabwe to work towards a quick and peaceful resolution to the impasse and to uphold human rights,” said President Lungu.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba has flown to Gaborone, Botswana to attend meetings of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Troika on Defence and Security to discuss the same crisis.
The Foreign Ministers of South Africa, Angola and Zambia are each serving members of the Troika.
“Zambia will continue to push for measures to safe-guard security within our framework of regional cooperation. SADC and the African Union (AU) are both clear and unambiguous when it comes to the sanctity of national constitutions,” said Kalaba.