Zimbabwe’s Apparent Coup: What We Know
While General Moyo called Mr. Mugabe the commander in chief, the military’s actions starkly revealed the limits of the president’s control.
About half a dozen tanks were stationed around strategic government buildings and intersections in the capital, Harare, but shops and banks were open, and most people carried on with business as usual.
Who are the main figures?
Robert Mugabe. He has been at the forefront of Zimbabwe’s politics for decades, first heading the fight against white minority rule, then serving as the country’s leader since independence in 1980. Through a combination of political maneuvering and authoritarian tactics, he has maintained his grip on power through his governing party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, or ZANU-PF.
Emmerson Mnangagwa. A longtime ally of the president and a fellow veteran of the war for independence, Mr. Mnangagwa is a hard-liner who became vice president and Mr. Mugabe’s probable successor three years ago. He is known as the Crocodile; as justice minister, he helped keep Mr. Mugabe in power by cracking down on the opposition.
Grace Mugabe. Mr. Mugabe’s wife of 21 years, Ms. Mugabe is the head of ZANU-PF’s women’s wing and has support from the party’s younger activists. She led the campaign against another rival to succeed her husband, former Vice President Joice Mujuru, and after Mr. Mnangagwa was removed from office she was seen as Mr. Mugabe’s most likely heir.
What we don’t know.
Much is uncertain, and events are still unfolding. In the early hours of the military action, there were no public statements by Mr. Mugabe, Ms. Mugabe or Mr. Mnangagwa. The degree to which any of them support or oppose the military’s moves is unclear.
Likewise, the military’s long-term plans are vague. General Moyo called on all soldiers to return to their barracks and announced a cancellation of all leave. He also warned other security services to cooperate. The extent to which the military might face resistance, from outside or from within, is unknown.
Negotiations were underway between Mr. Mnangagwa’s allies and opposition parties to possibly form an interim unity government, a move that would be likely to quell criticism of the military takeover.