Zimbabwe’s army seized control of the country on Wednesday, saying it was removing “criminals” around Robert Mugabe and holding the president for his own safety.
An army spokesman said on state television that Mr Mugabe and his family were being held in a “safe and secure place” while soldiers carried out the operation in Harare, which followed a day of high tension between the army’s commander, General Constantino Chiwenga, and Mr Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF.
“We are targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country,” the army spokesman said. “As soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”
Though the army has denied that this is in fact a "coup" against Mugabe, it is evident and obvious that it is one, and that the army has now control of the country and Mugabe, and most importantly his wife, Grace Mugabe, under house arrest.
Military officers and veterans of the liberation war had become increasingly concerned about the rise of Mrs Mugabe in the Zanu-PF during the past three years.
A former secretary to the president who is 40 years younger than her husband, Mrs Mugabe has been at the centre of toxic succession battle in Zanu-PF as the president’s health deteriorated.
Tensions have been building in Zimbabwe since Mr Mnangagwa, a powerful figure in the ruling Zanu-PF party, fled to South Africa last week after he was fired and was then stripped of his lifetime membership of the party.
The move was widely seen as part of a battle between Mr Mnangagwa and Mrs Mugabe, the first lady, over the presidential succession when Mr Mugabe dies or steps down.
Dubbed “Gucci Grace” because of her penchant for shopping, many believed the flamboyant first lady wielded growing influence over Mr Mugabe as he became frail, marginalising party veterans.
Robert and Grace Mugabe.
The rivalry between Mrs Mugabe and Mr Mnangagwa split Zanu-PF. Gen Chiwenga is a close ally of Mr Mnangagwa and both are veterans of the 1970s war which ended white minority rule.
The leader of the war veterans, Chris Mutsvangwa, welcomed the military move, telling Reuters: "This is a correction of a state that was careening off the cliff. "It's the end of a very painful and sad chapter in the history of a young nation, in which a dictator, as he became old, surrendered his court to a gang of thieves around his wife."
Whatever the outcome will be, either the army or the Zanu-PF will remain in power in Zimbawawe, a failed and bankrupt country.
The people of Zimbabwe will continue to live under a corrupt and rotten dictatorship, but whether it will be under a military one or the continuation of the Zanu-PF regime, under a new leader, remains to be seen.