Early reports say Grace Mugabe to leave Zimbabwe as Robert steps down

Early reports say Grace Mugabe to leave Zimbabwe as Robert steps down

CODE President Elton Mangoma, said the coup which has been staged against President Robert Mugabe's government by the Zimbabwe National Army should translate into an early free and fair election.

Zimbabwe's envoy to South Africa, Isaac Moyo, also dismissed talks of a coup, saying the government was "intact", the BBC said.

Soldiers reportedly took control of the headquarters of the national broadcaster, ZBC, and an army spokesman said on air "this is not a military takeover".

He also said the situation in the country "has moved to another level" and that he wished to assure the nation Mugabe and his family are safe and their security is "guaranteed".

In the broadcast, Moyo spoke of targeting "criminals" around the president who are "committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice".

Mr Mnangagwa, a veteran of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation wars, was popular with the military, which viewed his removal as part of a purge of independence-era figures to pave the way for Mr Mugabe to hand power to his wife Grace, 52.

As far as possible, army sources say, life will continue and they said the airport and normal travel will continue. More than 100 senior officials allegedly supportive of Mnangagwa were listed for disciplinary measures by a faction associated with Grace Mugabe.

The US embassy in the capital said it would be closed on Wednesday due to the "uncertainty", while advising US citizens to "shelter in place".

"It is our country and future at stake and we will not let any individual military man interfere with the leader of the party and legitimately voted president of this country", he told reporters on Tuesday.

Chiwenga made his comments on Monday, a week after Mugabe fired his ally, Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, as vice president and expelled him from the ruling party.

Grace Mugabe has described Mnangagwa as a snake that "must be hit on the head" and called him a "coup plotter" soon before he was sacked.

Robert Mugabe has accumulated a net worth of $10 million (£7.5 million) thanks largely to the fortunes reaped from Zimbabwe's diamond deposits.

Soldiers stand beside military vehicles just outside Harare, Zimbabwe, on 14 November 2017 as rumours mount of a coup against president Robert Mugabe.

In a statement issued on Tuesday evening, Zanu-PF accused Gen Chiwenga of "treasonable conduct".

The former vice president and freedom fighter in the country's liberation wars has since gone into hiding and his whereabouts are unknown.

A United States embassy spokesman in Zimbabwe said the embassy would be minimally staffed and closed to the public on Wednesday.

The British foreign office told Britons "currently in Harare to remain safely at home or in their accommodation until the situation becomes clearer".

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