The army coup against Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe continues as the country’s press released photos of Mugabe meeting with the army chief who placed him under house arrest and two envoys from South Africa.
The 93-year-old Mugabe has been in power since 1980. He was a major player in the guerrilla war against the former government of Rhodesia during the civil war which took place from 1964-1979. Mugabe was elected Prime Minister in 1980 but quickly moved to consolidate power and crush any opposition with brutal tactics.
He changed the constitution in 1982 to give himself more power. With the economy of Zimbabwe in tatters, he was under pressure to resign and turn power over to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
But Mugabe ousted the Vice President and was grooming his wife Grace to succeed him in power.
Photos in the Zimbabwe Herald showed Mr Mugabe meeting army chief Gen Constantino Chiwenga and the two South African envoys from the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) at State House in Harare.
Alongside them was Father Fidelis Mukonori, a Roman Catholic priest known to Mr Mugabe for years, who has been brought in to mediate.
Sources close to the talks say Mr Mugabe – who has been in control of Zimbabwe since it threw off white minority rule in 1980 – is refusing to stand down voluntarily before next year’s planned elections.
Many Zimbabweans almost instantly warmed to the military’s move to take control of the country, and confine President Mugabe to his official residence.
“The military has done a good thing,” says one bookseller. “They will ensure we get a transitional government.”
He is firmly convinced that Mr Mugabe’s 37-year rule is coming to an end.
There has been a sudden change of tone in the country, and the sense is that many Zimbabweans have been yearning for change.
Mugabe’s gambit to buy more time could be a potentially dangerous time for the coup plotters as forces loyal to Mugabe may try to retake control of the government. If that happens, the army general will not be placed under house arrest if Mugabe’s past is taken into account.
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Photo courtesy Screenshot Video Zimbabwe