President Robert Mugabe is under house arrest in Zimbabwe, South African President Jacob Zuma said in a statement today after the Zimbabwean military appeared to have taken control of the country, AFP reports.
"President Zuma spoke to President Robert Mugabe earlier today who indicated that he was confined to his home, but said that he was fine," the South African government said in a statement.
Mugabe's decades-long grip on power was dramatically weakened on Tuesday as military vehicles blocked roads outside the parliament in Harare and senior soldiers delivered a late-night television address to the nation.
"The president... and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed," Major General Sibusiso Moyo said, slowly reading out a statement.
Earlier Zimbabwe’s military seized power targeting “criminals” around President Robert Mugabe but gave assurances on national television that the 93-year-old leader and his family were “safe and sound”, Reuters adds.
Soldiers and armoured vehicles blocked roads to the main government offices, parliament and the courts in central Harare, while taxis ferried commuters to work nearby, a Reuters witness said.
Mugabe, the self-styled ‘Grand Old Man’ of African politics, has led Zimbabwe for the last 37 years. In contrast to his elevated status on the continent, Mugabe is reviled in the West as a despot whose disastrous handling of the economy and willingness to resort to violence to maintain power destroyed one of Africa’s most promising states.
“We are only targeting criminals around him (Mugabe) who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice,” Major General SB Moyo, Chief of Staff Logistics, said on television.
“As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”