ZIMBABWE ON KNIFE EDGE?

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - PIC­TURE: SO­CIAL ME­DIA

A video of tankers said to be head­ing to Harare, Zimbabwe’s cap­i­tal, set so­cial me­dia ablaze as ru­mours of a coup swelled yes­ter­day.

HARARE: While busi­ness and all other life con­tin­ued nor­mally in Harare yes­ter­day, many were con­cerned about four ar­moured troop car­ri­ers that were mov­ing south to­wards the cap­i­tal late in the af­ter­noon. Some me­dia re­ported the ve­hi­cles were tanks.

There was reg­u­lar traf­fic around Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe’s huge pri­vate res­i­dence in the north­ern Bor­row­dale sub­urb late in the af­ter­noon, all the roads were as nor­mal around State House, and no ex­tra po­lice or mem­bers of the Pres­i­den­tial Guard had been de­ployed, ac­cord­ing to sev­eral peo­ple who live nearby.

Em­bassies also did not is­sue any se­cu­rity alert to sug­gest that a coup was un­fold­ing in the im­pov­er­ished coun­try.

Oth­ers said they had not no­ticed any un­usual events or un­usual pres­ence of the army or po­lice since armed forces com­man­der Con­stan­tine Chi­wenga de­manded on Mon­day that Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe im­me­di­ately cease “purg­ing” al­lies of Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa, who was sacked from his vice-pres­i­dent’s job a week ago and fled to Mozam­bique, and then South Africa.

Po­lice raided a small NGO, Magamba, late yes­ter­day. Its man­ager, US cit­i­zen Martha O’Dono­van, was re­leased on bail on Mon­day af­ter be­ing ac­cused of tweet­ing mes­sages crit­i­cal of Mu­gabe, charges she de­nies.

“It feels just like any other day,” said a busi­ness­man who had just driven through the cen­tre of Harare and asked not to be iden­ti­fied. “We pre­sume any coup plot­ters would know that Zimbabwe would run out of fuel in a week or so, and that South Africa would likely cut off elec­tric­ity. Zimbabwe is a land­locked coun­try and can­not sur­vive if all borders close.”

Ear­lier in the day, rul­ing Zanu-PF youth leader Kudzai Chipanga held a press con­fer­ence in Harare, but blocked some me­dia from at­tend­ing. “We, as the Zanu-PF youth league, are a lion which has awak­ened and found its voice, there­fore we will not sit idly and fold our hands while cheap pot­shots and threats are made against Mu­gabe,” he said. He ac­cused Chi­wenga of theft of bil­lions of rand.

Not all army se­niors sup­port Chi­wenga and his ally, Mnan­gagwa, and some se­niors are close to the other Zanu-PF fac­tion, G40 – loyal to first lady Grace Mu­gabe and her crew of more ju­nior mem­bers of Zanu-PF. – For­eign Ser­vice

See Page 13

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