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.
Friday, November 17: The Latest
- 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]|