Zimbabwe army takeover – latest

Reaction after Zimbabwe’s army takes over main TV but denies staging a coup.

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

Sir Nicholas Soames, a veteran UK Conservative MP who last month defended his recent meeting with President Robert Mugabe, has given the BBC’s Today programme his views on the situation in Zimbabwe.

His father was the last governor of Rhodesia, and a good friend of Mr Mugabe.

There has been speculation about who is running a Twitter account which purports to be the official handle of the ruling Zanu-PF party. The account, which has not been verified officially, has just tweeted its allegiance is to Emmerson Mnangagwa, the sacked vice-president.

The Foreign Office has urged all British nationals in the capital to remain in the safety of their homes and or accommodation “due to the uncertain political situation”.

Those in Harare have also been told to keep away from any sort of political activity as “the authorities have sometimes used force to suppress demonstrations”.

Meanwhile, Emily Thornberry, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, has urged the UK government to continue to provide “every assistance necessary” to all British citizens in Zimbabwe.

She added:

Amid the uncertainty of these ongoing events, three things are clear: First, a descent into violence, recrimination and reprisals from any direction must be avoided at all costs; second, the continuation of authoritarian rule does not represent a sustainable way forward for Zimbabwe, no matter which faction ends up in control; and third, it must ultimately be for the Zimbabwean people to determine their own future government through free, peaceful and democratic elections.”

For the latest Foreign Office advice on the situation in Zimbabwe, click here.

Moses Rono

BBC Monitoring

State broadcasters have been playing patriotic songs from the independence period of the 1980s and re-broadcasting Major-General Sibusiso Moyo’s statement.

Gen Moyo announced on Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) TV that the military had seized power and that President Robert Mugabe was safe.

The state radio is relaying the audio feed from the TV.

They are reporting no other news.

Most of the songs are about the war waged by the country’s nationalist guerrillas against white-minority rule.

The word Chimurenga, which means revolution in the Shona language, has been repeatedly used in the songs.

The liberation struggle that ended white-minority rule was known as the Second Chimurenga.

The song Nesango, by Clive Malunga, in which the singer paid tribute to the country’s freedom fighters, has been repeatedly played by the broadcaster:

One of the songs
aired is accompanied by a series of newspaper cuttings on the “chronology of Zimbabwe
struggle”.

“The future of
Zimbabwe is in our hands. The future is now. Zimbabwe, it is my
responsibility,” said the lyrics of a song, with accompanying footage featuring tourism attraction
sites, wildlife and schoolchildren.

The songs played
are in the Shona and Ndebele local languages.

Kudzai Chipanga, the leader of Zanu-PF’s youth wing, has been arrested in Harare, a day after he said his supporters were ready to die in the defence of President Robert Mugabe.

The youth wing supports President Mugabe’s wife, Grace, as his successor.

Newspaper owner Trevor Ncube tweeted:

Mr Chipanga openly questioned Gen Constantino Chiwenga after the military chief said on Monday that the army was prepared to act to end purges within Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party.

The youth league leader responded yesterday, saying Gen Chiwenga did not have the support of the entire military.

“We will not sit and fold hands while threats are made against a legitimately-elected government,” he warned.

Read more: Zimbabwe crisis – what we know so far

Social media users say the Zimbabwean capital remains calm this morning, despite the army taking control overnight.

Zimbabwe’s state newspaper – The Herald – has not updated its website to reflect the developments overnight.

It still has a list of stories which reflect support for President Robert Mugabe.

Its lead story has Zanu-PF youth leader, Kudzai Chipanga, expressing support for Mr Mugabe, saying “we’ll defend the president with our lives”:

Meanwhile, the paper’s Twitter account has announced there will be a special edition of the paper:

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

The military appear to be patrolling the streets of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.

Pictures taken this morning show large armoured vehicles and soldiers appearing to direct – or possibly block – traffic.

BBC Monitoring

The world through its media

President Robert Mugabe is preparing to step
down, a few hours after the Zimbabwean military took over power, a leading South African news website has reported.

“Mugabe ‘preparing to step down’ –
senior source,” News24 website posted, without giving any further details.

Political tensions have been rising since
President Mugabe recently sacked Emmerson
Mnangagwa, a long-time ally, as vice-president.

A Twitter account thought to be run by Zanu-PF supporters alleges that Emmerson Mnangagwa has been made interim president.

The 75-year-old was sacked from his post as vice-president for what the government called “traits of disloyalty”.

At the time, his removal was seen as making it more likely that President Mugabe’s wife, Grace, would follow in her husband’s footsteps as leader of Zimbabwe.

She had earlier called on her husband to remove his vice-president.

You can read our story on his sacking here.

Soldiers have seized the headquarters of Zimbabwe’s national broadcaster and loud explosions and gunfire have been heard during a night of mounting tension in the capital, Harare.

An army general appeared on television to insist that there had not been a military coup and that the president and his family were “safe and sound”.

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

Read more – what we know so far.

The BBC’s Africa editor has said it is worth watching to see what happens to Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace, who he describes as the “real enemy” of the Emmerson Mnangagwa faction, the sacked vice-president who Zanu PF said in its series of tweets is now the interim president.

A series of tweets have been posted by a Twitter account purportedly belonging to Zimbabwe’s ruling party, Zanu-PF.

The tweets deny there has been a coup, adding there had been a “bloodless transition” of power.

It is not clear who is running the account.

Despite the comments made by the military and Zanu PF, the BBC’s Shingai Nyoka said the situation in Zimbabwe had “all the elements of a coup”.

“There was gunfire and explosions in several
suburbs in areas overnight including where senior government officials reside
and where President Mugabe’s private residence is.

“The army say he’s safe and
his security and that of his family is guaranteed.

“They deny it’s a coup as
they haven’t usurped his power. They say they have targeted the people around
him and he’ll be restored to the presidency as soon as their mission is
accomplished.”

A former adviser to Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has told the BBC that he believes the military’s claim that they haven’t carried out a coup is untrue.

“They have decided not to call it a coup because they know that a coup does not sell, it will be condemned,” Alex Magaisa said.

“But as far as authority is concerned, it seems very clear that President Mugabe is now just a president in name and authority is now residing in the military.”