Johannesburg – The African Union (AU) has used the “coup” word to describe the Zimbabwe military’s take-over of the country, despite the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) going out of its way to say that their seizing of power was definitely not a coup but merely the “arresting of criminals” for the ultimate good of the country, Kenya’s Daily Nation reported on Thursday.
AFP reported that the head of the AU, Alpha Conde, who is also Guinea's president, said on Wednesday that the crisis in Zimbabwe "seems like a coup" and called on the military to halt their actions immediately and restore constitutional order.
Conde further condemned the military actions in the southern African nation as "clearly soldiers trying to take power by force".
"The African Union expresses its serious concern regarding the situation unfolding in Zimbabwe," a statement sent to AFP said, expressing support for the country's "legal institutions".
The continental body then went on to demand that "constitutional order be restored immediately and called on all stakeholders to show responsibility and restraint”.
Derek Matyszak, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Zimbabwe, said there were good reasons the Zimbabwe military desperately wanted to downplay the possibility that they had carried out a coup.
“They knew that if what they are doing is interpreted as a coup, the regional and international communities would not accept this and that the AU would be against it,” Matyszak told the African News Agency (ANA).
Although Africa has a history of coups, with the exception of Lesotho, southern Africa has not been plagued by them.
“That’s why they are arguing that their actions merely constitute security measures such as arresting counter-revolutionary elements and once this is complete they will go back to their barracks and hand control back to the government.
“But as the saying goes if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it probably is a duck. Furthermore, the Zimbabwean military has used coup-like language,” added Matyszak.
Meanwhile, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on all sides in Zimbabwe to show "restraint".
His spokesperson Farhan Haq said the secretary-general was monitoring the situation and was calling for calm and no violence.
Guterres added that resolving the political crisis through peaceful means and dialogue in line with the country’s constitution was the way to go.
The UN chief noted that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was making efforts to end the crisis.