President Jacob Zuma is very concerned about the unfolding events in Zimbabwe that have seen the country’s military take control of the capital city and state broadcasters, his office said on Wednesday.
“President Zuma has called for calm and restraint, and has expressed hope that developments in Zimbabwe would not lead to unconstitutional changes of Government as that would be contrary to both SADC and African Union positions,” Zuma’s office said in a statement.
“The President has urged the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Defence Force to resolve the political impasse amicably and has urged the Zimbabwean Defence Force to ensure that the maintenance of peace and security in the country is not compromised,” the statement added.
Zuma’s office said SADC would continue to closely monitor the situation and remains ready to assist where necessary.
Zimbabwe’s military has seized control of state television ZBC, and said it was acting against “criminals” surrounding 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe. But a military spokesman has denied this is a coup despite rumours that Mugabe and his family were under house arrest.
Events have unfolded after the head of the defence forces, General Constantino Chiwenga, warned the army would take “drastic action” if factions in the ruling Zanu PF did not stop purges against party members with military backgrounds.
This followed last week’s sacking of war veteran Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa amid a struggle for party leadership with Mugabe’s wife, Grace, who is supported by the youthful “G40” party faction.
Mnangagwa fled to South Africa, but is rumoured to have returned to Zimbabwe on Wednesday to take control of government.