Zimbabwe’s military detained Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo on Wednesday after seizing power in an attempt to root out “criminals” around President Robert Mugabe who it said were causing social and economic suffering, a government source said.
Chombo was a leading member of the so-called ‘G40’ faction of the ruling ZANU-PF party, led by Mugabe’s wife Grace, that had been vying to succeed the 93-year-old president.
Chombo was moved to his new post during President Robert Mugabe’s latest cabinet reshuffle last month.
The source said the army seized power in an attempt to root out “criminals” around Mugabe, who it said were causing social and economic suffering.
The army, has, however denied reports of a coup, after images emerged of armoured vehicles driving into the capital of Harare on Tuesday.
It’s understood Mugabe is safe and the government remains intact.
Zimbabwean defence force spokesperson SB Moyo explains: “Comrade Robert Mugabe is safe and sound. Their security is there, and their safety is guaranteed. We are targeting criminals around him who are causing social and economic suffering.”
The International Relations Department’s Clayson Monyela says South Africa is monitoring the developments in Zimbabwe and is receiving regular updates from officials in the country.
“As far as the border is concerned, particularly Beit Bridge, we have a strong presence by authorities in this country. They are stationed at that border and the personnel are adequate to deal with anything that may happen.”
Britain and the United States have advised their citizens to stay at home on Wednesday.