Coup in Zimbabwe: Confusion and consternation online

On 15 November, Zimbabwean soldiers were deployed on the streets of Harare and seized control of the state broadcaster and several other institutions. This came after President Robert Mugabe sacked his vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and accused the head of the military, General Constantino Chiwenga, of “treasonable conduct“.

Army vehicles were seen patrolling Harare and reportedly caused three explosions. The country’s national police force also reportedly recalled all police officers on leave. The army has denied reports of a coup and said that it is only pursuing “criminals” around Mugabe.

According to experts and officials, the coup may result in a delay in Zimbabwe’s elections and the establishment of a unity government, which will involve opposition parties. Political analysts are speculating that South Africa could have been aware of the tension that unfolded in Zimbabwe and might support the imposition of this unity government.

Students and workers were advised to remain at home as uniformed forces took over the country, according to reports.

Many prominent and political figures took to social media to voice out their concerns over the threatening military act in the country, calling for calm and stability in the country.

President Jacob Zuma has also called for peace in the neighbouring country and said that he hopes there won’t be any unconstitutional changes in Zimbabwe’s government. Zuma also said he will be sending defence minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and state security minister, advocate Bongani Bongo to meet with Mugabe and the Zimbabwean Defence Force (ZDF).

In a press statement released by the Economic Freedom Fighters, the party called for Mugabe to hand over his political power to the next generation. “Zimbabwe has experienced a lot of pain and destabilization over of the past two decades, lost its currency and displaced millions of its citizens due to economic hardships,” it said. The party also called for the ZDF to use nonviolent tactics to maintain order in the country. “The ZDF should make sure that there is no loss of life during the transition, but should decisively suppress agent provocateurs who will try to undermine the long overdue transition,” said the EFF.

The situation in Zimbabwe has currently been described as calm but tense, according to SABC reports.

Featured image by Tendai Marima