Zimbabwe's military has seized state TV and blocked off access to government offices in the capital Harare. In a televised address early on Wednesday morning, military spokesperson, Major General SB Moyo, said the army was seeking to "pacify a degenerating, social, and economic situation" in the country. This was reported by Aljazeera agency.
“Firstly, we wish to assure the nation that His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and commander-in-chief of Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Comrade RG Mugabe, and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed,” he said in the address.
As tanks surrounded parliamentary and presidential buildings he said they were only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country, in order to bring them to justice.
Just 24 hours after military chief General Constantino Chiwenga threatened to intervene to end a purge in the ruling party, six armored personnel carriers appeared on major thoroughfares on the outskirts of the capital.
The Southern African nation has been on edge since Monday when Chiwenga, Commander of Zimbabwe Defence Forces, said he was prepared to “step in” to end a purge of supporters of a sacked vice president.
The unprecedented statement represents an escalation of a rumbling political struggle over who will succeed Mugabe, who has been in power since the country gained independence from Britain in 1980.
Mugabe fired Vice President Emerson Mnangagwa last week. The veteran of the 1970s liberation war was popular with the military and had been seen as a likely successor to Mugabe.
The army views his removal as part of a purge of independence-era figures to pave the way for Mugabe to hand power to his wife Grace Mugabe.
Mugabe came to power when Zimbabwe won independence in 1980 and his 37-year rule has been criticised for repression of dissent, election rigging, and for causing the country's economic collapse.
Despite health concerns and growing opposition, the leader of the ruling Zanu-PF party has said he has no plans of stepping down.
President Mugabe is being held under house arrest in Harare, after a military coup last night, the leader of South Africa declared this morning.
President Zuma of South Africa said that he had spoken to his Zimbabwean counterpart who “indicated he was confined to his home but said that he was fine”.
Soldiers in armoured personnel carriers appeared on the capital’s streets overnight and seized control of the national broadcaster amid gunfire and explosions.
Zimbabweans have responded to the coup with jubilation after the army brought to an end Mr Mugabe’s 37-year grip on power.
Grace is Roberb Mugabe's wifa and the first lady and is at the centre the crisis.
A flurry of party endorsements and parades in honour of Grace Mugabe, Zimbabwe's first lady, could mark the stirring of a national political dynasty for the Mugabes, as structures within the ruling Zanu PF endorse Grace as a potential candidate for the vice presidency following Monday's dismissal of former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
All the party's provinces have rallied around the 52-year-old for the vice presidency, with her strongest support coming from the Zanu PF women's league, which she leads, and the youth league.
Grace Mugabe believed to be in Namibia but it isn't known for sure.
The Namibian Sun, an English-language newspaper, tweeted a statement from the government that did not mention Grace.
The statement said Namibia has been following the "unfolding developments in Zimbabwe with concern".
Very little is known and even less said about the man called “The Crocodile” or “Ngwena” [Shona for crocodile]. Now, the world’s eyes are on sacked vice-president Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, who has returned from exile to take over the reins of power from Robert Mugabe, who has ruled for nearly four decades.
A veteran of the country’s liberation war against white dominance, stone-faced Mnangagwa, 74, is a man of few words with strong military links.
Ordinary Zimbabweans are wary, whispering anxiously about his alleged role in the 1980s Gukurahundi massacres.