Yemi Adedeji, Abuja
There is air of uncertainty and confusion in Zimbabwe at the moment following the takeover of the government by the military after 37 years of Robert Mugabe’s rule.
The development came barely 24 hours after Constantino Chiwenga, Commander of Zimbabwe Defence Forces, cautioned over instability in the ruling party.
In a national broadcast on Wednesday morning, SB Moyo, a major general, said the military action was targeted at “criminals” around President Robert Mugabe.
“We are only targeting criminals around him (Mugabe) who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice,” Moyo said.
“As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”
Neither Mugabe nor his wife, Grace, who has been vying to succeed her husband as president, have been seen or heard from, but Moyo said members of the first family “are safe and sound”.
“We wish to assure the nation that His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and commander-in-chief of Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Comrade RG Mugabe, and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change called for a peaceful return to constitutional democracy, adding it hoped the military intervention would lead to the “establishment of a stable, democratic and progressive nation state”.
The leader of Zimbabwe’s influential liberation war veterans called for South Africa, southern Africa and the West to re-engage Zimbabwe, whose economic decline over the past two decades has been a drag on the southern African region.
“This is a correction of a state that was careening off the cliff,” Chris Mutsvangwa, a war veteran.
“It’s the end of a very painful and sad chapter in the history of a young nation, in which a dictator, as he became old, surrendered his court to a gang of thieves around his wife.”