Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is apparently safe inside his compound. File picture: Themba Hadebe/AP

Cape Town - A group of exiled Zimbabwean activists has blamed the ruling Zanu-PF’s failure to resolve the race to succeed deposed President Robert Mugabe for the current crisis.

The Zimbabwean Communist Party (ZCP) on Wednesday said the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) would not have stepped in had the Zanu-PF properly handled Mugabe’s succession.

On Monday, General Constantine Chiwenga, ZDF commander since 2004, warned that the military will not hesitate to step in following the axing of vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa last week.

On Wednesday, the ZDF announced that Mugabe and his family were safe and that it was “only targeting criminals around him”.

ZCP general-secretary Ngqabutho Mabhena said the military was acting in defence of the Zanu-PF faction headed by Mnangagwa ahead of next month’s special congress.

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“It’s not an ideological battle but a fight over who should loot more than the other,” he said.

Mabhena said Zimbabweans at home and abroad had mixed reaction about the ZDF’s move, with some not backing the soldiers and hoping it delivers elections that produce the southern African country’s first new president in 37 years.

He said other Zimbabweans feared that the soldiers’ actions could close the democratic space and suspend elections.

Zimbabwe Exiles Forum’s Gabriel Shumba declined to comment, saying they did not even know what was happening and have asked friends and family to investigate. 

Siphosezwe Masango, chairman of the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on international relations and cooperation, said they have asked International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane for a briefing on the crisis next week.

Masango said he would be making a statement at yesterday afternoon’s sitting of the National Assembly on the crisis.

He echoed ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe’s statement that Zimbabwe was not South Africa’s 10th province but that the ruling party was concerned by the developments.

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“We don’t want to be seen to be interfering,” he explained.

Masango said he hoped the Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of state and government and SADC’s organ on politics, defence and security will provide the necessary political assistance to have meaningful and constructive engagements with Zimbabweans.

Amnesty International’s southern Africa regional director Deprose Muchena said it was essential that the military ensure the safety and security of all people in Zimbabwe – regardless of their political allegiance - and refrain from any action that puts lives and human rights at risk.

Muchena warned that military takeover should not be used as an excuse to undermine Zimbabwe’s international and regional human rights obligations and commitments.

“The free flow of information – through the media and social media - must be guaranteed,” he said.
Mugabe previously dismissed politicians and senior military officers accused of plotting to overthrow him at least twice in 1982 and 2007.

Political Bureau