Sadc calls for calm

HARARE - South African president and current chair of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), Jacob Zuma, has called for calm and restraint in Zimbabwe.

This comes after the army announced early morning yesterday that it was targeting criminals around President Robert Mugabe, adding things will get back to normalcy after the mission is accomplished.

Zuma said yesterday they are noting the developments of the unfolding events with great concern, adding that he hoped the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF)’s actions would not lead to unconstitutional changes of government.

“President Zuma has called for calm and restraint and has expressed hope that developments in Zimbabwe would not lead to unconstitutional changes of government as that would be contrary to both Sadc and African Union positions.

“The president has urged the government of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to resolve the political impasse amicably and has urged the Zimbabwean Defence Forces to ensure that the maintenance of peace and security in the country is not compromised.

“Sadc will continue to closely monitor the situation and remains ready to assist where necessary to resolve the political impasse in keeping with established Sadc Protocols and processes,” Zuma said in a statement.

Zuma has since sent envoys, South Africa Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and State Security minister Bongani Bongo, to meet Mugabe and ZDF officials with a view to reach a compromise.

“President Zuma spoke to President Robert Mugabe earlier today (yesterday) who indicated that he was confined to his home but said that he was fine. South Africa is also in contact with the Zimbabwean Defence Forces.

“The special envoys will also be sent to the Republic of Angola to see President Joao Lourenco, chairperson of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security to brief him on the situation,” the statement reads.

Some foreign embassies also gave warnings to their nationals in Zimbabwe, with the United States Embassy partially closing its offices.

“Due to ongoing uncertainty in Zimbabwe, the US Embassy in Harare will be minimally staffed and closed to the public on November 15. Embassy personnel will continue to monitor the situation closely @StateDept,” the embassy said in a Twitter post.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a department of the Government of the United Kingdom, is also said to have issued out a warning to British nationals in Zimbabwe.

“Due to the uncertain political situation in Harare, including reports of unusual military activity, we recommend British nationals currently in Harare to remain safely at home or in their accommodation until the situation becomes clearer. Please continue to monitor our travel advice and embassy social media accounts for updates.

“You should avoid political activity, or activities that could be considered political, including political discussions in public places and criticism of the president. You should avoid all demonstrations and rallies.

“The authorities have sometimes used force to suppress demonstrations,” the statement reads.

Political tensions have been rising since Mugabe recently sacked vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa while army general and commander of the ZDF Constantino Chiwenga was away in China.

Following his sacking, a statement attributed to Mnangagwa was issued stating that he would be coming back in a few weeks to take over the reins.

The announcement by the army came just a few days after Chiwenga returned from an official trip in China.

Meanwhile, China’s Foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said Chiwenga had not briefed China on the army plans.

“I can only tell you that his visit to China this time was a normal military exchange mutually agreed upon by China and Zimbabwe. As a country that is friendly with Zimbabwe, we are paying close attention to developments of the situation in Zimbabwe.

“Maintaining peaceful and stable development accords with the fundamental interests of Zimbabwe and regional countries, and is the common desire of the international community. We hope the relevant parties in Zimbabwe appropriately handle their internal matters,” Shuang said.


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