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Zimbabwe: Military takes charge, vows to crush indecency

Zimbabwe: Military takes charge, vows to crush indecency

Soldiers deployed across the Zimbabwe capital Harare and seized the state broadcaster, ZBC, on Wednesday after 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party accused the head of the military of treason, prompting frenzied speculation of a coup.

The streets of Zimbabwe's capital Harare were eerily quiet on Wednesday morning but wartime songs were broadcast over state radio and TV stations, while soldiers stopped pedestrians and motorists to ask for identity documents, witnesses say. However, Isaac Moyo, Zimbabwe's ambassador in South Africa, claimed the government remains "intact".

The statement read out by Maj Gen Sibusiso Moyo came hours after soldiers overran the headquarters of ZBC.

"We are only targeting criminals around who him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice".

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe army said once mission accomplished, "situation will return to normalcy".

In the statement, the ruling party said it stood by the "primacy of politics over the gun" and accused General Chiwenga of "treasonable conduct ... meant to incite insurrection".

"The main indicator of a broader outbreak of violence would be the reaction of the Presidential Guard, which remains loyal to President Mugabe".

There are reports that the military in Harare has said: "We are in control". The veteran of the country's 1970s liberation war was popular with the military and had been seen as a likely successor to Mugabe.

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But the generals' actions posed as a major challenge to the ageing Mugabe, 93, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Gabriel Mugabe addresses the U.N. General Assembly at the United Nations on September 21, 2017, in New York, New York.

A week of turmoil has followed the sacking of Zimbabwe's deputy leader Emmerson Mnangagwa by President Mugabe.

Despite an often abrasive manner, Grace Mugabe's commanding presence and charity work have won support from some Zimbabweans.

But a recent post from the ruling party's own Twitter account suggests the first family has been detained.

President Mugabe has exerted nearly total authority over Zimbabwean politics for decades - but the sacking of his most senior long-time confidant "has laid bare the rivalries inside Zimbabwe's political establishment" and could spark repercussions beyond his control, says the Daily Mail.

Martin Rupiya, an expert on Zimbabwe military affairs, said the army appeared to be moving to put the squeeze on Mr Mugabe.

The US embassy in Zimbabwe on Wednesday warned its citizens in the country to "shelter in place" due to "ongoing political uncertainty" as the crisis threatening President Robert Mugabe's government deepened.