Soldiers are reported to have taken over the headquarters of Zimbabwe’s national broadcaster, ZBC, amid a growing political crisis. Explosions have also been reported in the capital, Harare, but the cause is unclear.
In the only official word from the government, Isaac Moyo, Zimbabwe’s ambassador to neighbouring South Africa, dismissed talk of a coup. He said the government was intact and blamed social media for spreading false information.
The Southern African nation has been on edge since Monday when Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General Constantino Chiwenga had challenged President Robert Mugabe after he sacked the vice-president, Emmerson Mnangagwa. Chiwenga said he was prepared to step in to end a purge of supporters of sacked vice president.
Zimbabwe’s ruling party accused Chiwnga of treasonable conduct. Tensions were raised further on Tuesday when armoured vehicles were seen taking up positions on roads outside Harare, although their purpose was unclear.
Meanwhile, the US State Department has said it is closely monitoring the situation in Zimbabwe and urged all parties to resolve disputes calmly and peacefully. The US embassy in Harare tweeted that it would be closed today due to ongoing uncertainty and advised US citizens in Zimbabwe to shelter in place until further notice.
There has been no word so far from 93-year-old President Mugabe or his representatives. Mr Mugabe sacked Vice-President last week, amid a row over succession. Mr Mnangagwa had previously been seen as an heir to the president, but First Lady Grace Mugabe is now the clear front-runner. The rivalry between Mrs Mugabe and Mr Mnangagwa has split President Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party.