Zimbabwe soldiers say Mugabe is safe, deny takeover of state

15 November 2017 - 05:13 By AFP and REUTERS
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe military officers read an address live on state TV in the early hours of Wednesday, saying President Robert Mugabe was safe and that the country was not undergoing a coup.

"It is not a military takeover of government," said one general, reading a statement. "We wish to assure the nation that his excellency the president ... and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed."

Soldiers were deployed across Harare and seized the state broadcaster on Wednesday after the 93-year-old Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party accused the head of the military of treason. 

Just 24 hours after Gen Constantino Chiwenga threatened to intervene to end a purge of his allies in Mugabe's Zanu-PF, a Reuters reporter saw armoured personnel carriers on main roads around the capital.

Two hours later, soldiers overran the headquarters of the ZBC, Zimbabwe's state broadcaster and a principal Mugabe mouthpiece, and ordered staff to leave. Several ZBC workers were manhandled, two members of staff and a human rights activist said.

Shortly afterwards, three explosions rocked the centre of the Southern African nation's capital, Reuters witnesses said.

Earlier, the UK government advised its citizens in Harare to remain indoors until the political situation became clearer in the African country.

"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 Foreign & Commonwealth Office said in a statement.

The US ambassador in Zimbabwe instructed all employees to remain home on Wednesday due to "ongoing political uncertainty", the embassy said in a statement on its website amid speculation about a coup.