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Trócaire monitoring unprecedented situation in Zimbabwe

The military took over Zimbabwe’s national broadcaster overnight to announce that 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe and his family have been confined at home.

“We are only targeting criminals around him [Mugabe] who are committing crimes… that are causing social and economic suffering in the country,” Major General Moyo said, reading out a statement.

He also stated that, “As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”

It is yet not clear who is leading the military action.

Early this morning (Wednesday), gun and artillery fire could be heard in northern parts of Harare where Mr Mugabe and a number of government office live.

Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa has reported that he has spoken to Robert Mugabe, “who indicated that he was confined to his home but said that he was fine”.

According to major news outlets including the BBC, the move by the military may be a bid to replace Mr Mugabe with his sacked deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mr Mnangagwa was dismissed from his role last week, leaving Mugabe’s wife Grace as the aged President’s most likely successor.

Neither Trócaire, nor any of its local partners in the country, anticipated this situation in a recent planning exercise looking to future political scenarios that might unfold.

Our team on the ground have said that though this ‘take-over’ is wholly unexpected (the military are saying it is not a coup), it is being conducted in an orderly and calm manner. The airport, for example, has remained open and freedom of movement has been retained. 

One challenge is determining what is fact and what is rumour, as conspiracy theories and misinformation abound on social media.

At the moment the team is focused on personal safety, and maintaining contact with each other and head office in Ireland. People in the capital Harare in particular are being advised to stay safely at home or in their accommodation until the situation is clearer.

We will also seek to monitor how the situation develops in the rural areas where we work, where communities could be vulnerable to instances of political opportunism that may arise.

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