Harare calm as Zuma calls meeting over Zimbabwe situation
Johannesburg/Harare, Nov. 16 (IANS): South Africa’s President and Chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Jacob Zuma on Thursday called an emergency meeting to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe following a surprise military takeover.
The future of Robert Mugabe’s 37-year stint as Zimbabwe President remained uncertain as the nonagenarian ruler was still under house arrest and the whereabouts of his wife, Grace, were as yet unconfirmed after the Zimbabwe Defence Forces apparently seized power of the country.
There were reports that Mugabe is resisting pressure to resign as President, the BBC said.
According to a statement released by the SADC, the emergency meeting called by Zuma is to take place at 3 p.m. in Botswana’s capital Gaborone and will involve the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation for South Africa and the Foreign Ministers of Angola, Tanzania and Zambia.
Zuma has urged the Zimbabwean ZANU-PF government and the ZDF “to resolve the political impasse amicably”.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwean opposition politician Douglas Mwonzora told the BBC earlier that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) was open to transition talks.
Morgan Tsvangirai, who leads the MDC-T, was reportedly returning to Zimbabwe from South Africa, where he has been receiving treatment for colon cancer.
Calm prevailed over the Zimbabwe’s capital on Thursday morning despite the ongoing tension after the apparent military intervention against Mugabe’s government, Efe news reported.
Traffic returned to normal, roadblocks that had been installed in the Mount Pleasant diplomatic area a day before were removed and classes resumed in schools. There were armoured vehicles and soldiers on the streets of central Harare.
Chairman of the Public Service Commission and Service Commissions, Mariyawanda Nzuwah, urged officials to continue reporting for work, according to the state newspaper The Herald.
“As is always the norm, all public servants are expected to report for duty every day and timely and to provide services to all the people of Zimbabwe,” said Nzuwah, who said public servants, including Army personnel, would be paid on time.
Tensions erupted in Zimbabwe when Mugabe fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week in an apparent bid to clear the path for First Lady Grace to eventually take the reins of the presidency.
Mnangagwa, a war veteran who had been a powerful figure within the ruling ZANU-PF party, was seen as the most likely successor to long-serving 93-year-old Mugabe.
On Tuesday, tanks could be seen moving towards Harare and the Army soon took over the state TV channel from where a spokesman issued a statement to the nation, insisting that they were not involved in a military coup and ensuring the safety of the Mugabes.
Mugabe has presided the country since overthrowing British control in 1980.
It is one of the most impoverished nations in the region and is subject to hyper-inflation rates that have crippled the country’s economy.