Johannesburg – “South Africa can no longer ignore what is happening in Zimbabwe. As late as yesterday the ANC was pretending that nothing had happened to its neighbour now they have to acknowledge there is a crisis,” said Derek Matyszak, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Zimbabwe.
“As chair of The Southern African Development Community (SADC) South Africa will need to urgently call an extraordinary session to address what is happening in Zimbabwe," Matyszak told the African News Agency (ANA) on Wednesday.
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) is in control of the country’s state broadcaster, armoured vehicles are on the streets of the capital Harare, there has been a blackout of the media, soldiers are arresting what they describe as “criminal elements” while all leave for military personnel has been cancelled.
These dramatic events follow the commander of the Zimbabwe army, Constantino Chiwenga, threatening to take military action if Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe continued to purge the ruling Zanu-PF party of people opposing what is believed to be his wife Grace’s political manoeuvrings to take up the position of vice president following the sacking of former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week.
The Zimbabwe military has denied there is a coup underway in the southern African country, but some media reports allude to the possibility that the army doesn’t want to admit that a coup is taking place even though breaking events point to the beginnings of exactly that possibility.
“But as the saying goes if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck then it probably is a duck and the Zimbabwean military is using coup-like language,” added Matyszak.
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“However, the military hasn’t declared martial law, they haven’t suspended the constitution and they claim that they have surrounded President Robert Mugabe for his own protection, not to overthrow him so in that sense what is happening doesn’t fit the exact definition of a coup,” the Zimbabwe expert explained.
“The military will argue that the actions they are taking constitute security measures, they are merely arresting counter-revolutionary elements and once this is complete they will go back to their barracks and hand control back to the government. The military vehicles outside parliament are probably just a show of strength.”
Matyszak told ANA he thinks Mugabe is being pressured to resign and that there is a possibility that Mnangagwa will be reinstated.