HARARE - Armed military personnel prevented businesses near the parliament building, including a branch of Standard Chartered, from opening as tensions over a political stand-off between Mugabe’s Zanu PF party and the armed forces simmered.
This has been epitomised by the uniformed forces taking over national broadcaster, ZTV and issuing a statement saying the military was merely dealing with criminals around Mugabe. The army generals emphasised that Mugabe and his family were safe.
President Jacob Zuma spoke to President Robert Mugabe earlier on Wednesday who indicated that he was confined to his home but said that he was fine, the Presidency said in a statement.
But on the streets of Harare, it was a mixed bag of feelings. A sense of trepidation, tense and fear hung over the city as ordinary Zimbabweans went about their business. A Pick n Pay store in central Harare, along Jason Moyo Avenue, was open and shoppers swiped and used mobile money to buy groceries and food.
Across the Jason Moyo street, an Old Mutual owned bank, CABS, was also open for business although activity was low. The Jason Moyo street is less than 300 meters from the parliament building which was cordoned off. A branch of Standard Chartered Bank near the parliament was closed.
“We are open as you can see and people are transacting well. We don’t know what will come next few hours and days and we will be taking instructions from our head office,” a supervisor at a Pick n Pay outlet in central Harare told Business Report.
Zimbabweans took to social media to welcome the takeover of power by the military, the clearest sign yet that the populace was already looking forward to the post Mugabe era. Opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader, Morgan Tsvangirai was due to issue a statement on latest developments either today or tomorrow, according to sources.
“To the generality of the people of Zimbabwe; We urge you to remain calm and limit unnecessary movement. We encourage those who are employed and those with essential business in the city to continue their normal businesses as usual,” major general Sibusiso Moyo, said in the state televised statement which was run occasionally throughout the day.
Most business leaders were holding meetings to prepare for the unfolding situation in Harare, sources said. Zimbabwe has been under the rule of Mugabe since independence from Britain in 1980 and the country has never seen a military intervention of this magnitude.
Mugabe is blamed for running down the country through poor economic policies but it is the sacking of Mnangagwa and moves to reportedly arrest the army chief over his statements cautioning against purging of officials with military links that could have prompted the army to take over power from Mugabe.
- BUSINESS REPORT