The President took charge of the crisis, showed the authoritarians in Cabinet that he's still the boss, writes Adriaan Basson.
Showers early. More sun than clouds. Cool.
The situation remains uncertain in Zimbabwe after the army placed President Robert Mugabe and his wife under house arrest, triggering speculation of a military coup.
Also read: Mnangagwa planned #Zimbabwe coup - report
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, the world's oldest head of state, refused to resign during a crunch meeting on Thursday with military generals who have seized control of the country.
The talks in Harare came after tumultuous days in which soldiers blockaded key roads, took over state TV and put the veteran leader under house arrest.
Mugabe's 37 years in power: How Zimbabweans' wealth took a dive
The average wealth of a person in Zimbabwe is one of the lowest levels in the world, according to Johannesburg-based global research group New World Wealth.
Its research shows that as of the end of 2016, the average wealth of a person in Zimbabwe stood at about US$200 (about R2 856), compared to a peak of more than $1 600 (about R22 816) in 1990.
UN chief welcomes efforts on Zimbabwe crisis
The spokesperson for the UN secretary-general says Antonio Guterres welcomes the efforts of the southern African regional bloc to "facilitate a peaceful solution to the situation" in Zimbabwe.
The spokesperson says the UN chief is in contact with regional leaders and calls for continued calm.
Cabinet ministers from four countries in the 15-nation Southern African Development Community have called for an emergency summit to discuss the political turmoil in Zimbabwe.
It is widely seen as essential to giving Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe a dignified exit from power after the military stepped in this week.
This might take longer than we expected. The going part seems agreed. The how and when are sticking points. December after ZanuPF Congress? Before 2018 elections ? Who blinks first? #Zimbabwe— Trevor Ncube (@TrevorNcube) November 16, 2017
This might take longer than we expected. The going part seems agreed. The how and when are sticking points. December after ZanuPF Congress? Before 2018 elections ? Who blinks first? #Zimbabwe
Mugabe: the last of Africa's 'fathers of independence'
At 93, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is the last living African head of state to have fought for his country's independence from a colonial power before becoming its leader.
He has used his aura of liberator to stay in power but has increasingly become seen as an oppressor, and Zimbabwe's military detained the veteran leader this week.
Below are the main founding fathers of post-colonial Africa:
Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana
Born in 1909, Nkrumah fought on two fronts: for independence for the British Gold Coast and for pan-Africanism, calling for the creation of a United States of Africa.
He was prime minister upon independence in 1957, becoming president in 1960 of what became Ghana.
He imposed a veritable personality cult, demanding that he be called "Osagyefo", or "redeemer".
Ousted during a coup in 1966, he died in exile in Romania in 1972.
Ahmed Sekou Toure, Guinea
Toure was Guinea's dictatorial first president after independence in 1958 until his death in 1984.
He was the only African nationalist leader to have rejected a Franco-African community proposed by General Charles de Gaulle, preferring outright independence to limited autonomy.
Leopold Sedar Senghor, Senegal
The poet and statesman became Senegal's first president in 1960, stepping down of his own accord 20 years later and retiring to France, where he died in 2001 aged 95.
Like other key players in the decolonisation of francophone Africa, Senghor had taken part in French politics while fighting for his country's emancipation.
Felix Houphouet-Boigny, Ivory Coast
A former French deputy and minister, Houphouet-Boigny was president of Ivory Coast from independence in 1960 until his death in 1993.
Known as the Old One, he was one of the pioneers of the African emancipation struggle.
Julius Nyerere, Tanzania
Nyerere in 1954 founded the independence-oriented Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), which led the British colony to independence.
A supporter of African socialism, the founding father of what became known as Tanzania in 1964 was nicknamed the Teacher and led the country from 1961 to 1985, stepping down of his own accord.
Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya
A former independence activist, imprisoned for several years, Kenyatta led Kenya from independence from Britain in December 1963 to his death in 1978.
His US-educated son Uhuru was elected president in 2013 and again this year, though the results of that vote are still disputed.
Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia
Dubbed the "African Gandhi" for his nonviolent independence-oriented activism, he became the first president of independent Zambia in 1964.
He went on to lead the country, known as Northern Rhodesia under British rule, for 27 years under a single-party system.
In 1991 he accepted free elections, at which he was defeated.
Kamuzu Banda, Malawi
In 1966 prime minister Hastings Kamuzu Banda became Malawi's first president, exercising a grip on power for three decades.
In 1993, under international pressure, he accepted a referendum on multi-party rule and was defeated at the first democratic elections in 1994.
He died in South Africa three years later.
Samora Machel, Mozambique
Having fought against the Portuguese colonial power at the head of marxist movement Frelimo, Machel became Mozambique's first president in June 1975.
He died in October 1986 when his plane crashed in South Africa in circumstances which remain unclear.
His widow, Graca, then married South Africa's president Nelson Mandela in 1998.
I am reliably informed that a deal is being finalized. It appears Mugabe’s demands for safe passage for his family have been granted. Final details might be confirmed in a few hours. #Zimbabwe— Trevor Ncube (@TrevorNcube) November 16, 2017
I am reliably informed that a deal is being finalized. It appears Mugabe’s demands for safe passage for his family have been granted. Final details might be confirmed in a few hours. #Zimbabwe
Here is a timeline of the developing political crisis in Zimbabwe, which has seen the military take control of the country while President Robert Mugabe refuses to step down.
November 6: Mugabe fires Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a rival of Mugabe's wife Grace, 52, to succeed the veteran 93-year-old leader in power.
November 8: Mnangagwa says he has fled the country - to South Africa, according to members of his circle.
November 13: Zimbabwe's army chief General Constantino Chiwenga warns the military could intervene to stop what he calls a purge of Mugabe's rivals in ZANU-PF, branding them "treacherous shenanigans".
November 14: A convoy of tanks is seen moving on the outskirts of the Zimbabwean capital.
November 15: Military vehicles take control of the streets of Harare from the early hours, controlling access to parliament, ruling party headquarters and the Supreme Court.
South Africa says Mugabe has told its president, Jacob Zuma, by telephone that he is under house arrest but is "fine".South Africa sends two special envoys to Zimbabwe.
The European Union urges a peaceful resolution to the crisis.Former colonial power Britain urges all sides in Zimbabwe to refrain from violence and says the situation is "very fluid".
The head of the African Union, Guinea's President Alpha Conde, says the situation "seems like a coup". He calls on the military to halt their actions and restore constitutional order.
November 16: Mugabe refuses to resign during talks with generals, a source close to the army leadership says.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai also calls for Mugabe to go "in the interest of the people".Mugabe and envoys from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), dispatched by Zuma, hold talks at the presidency.
ANALYSIS: 5 questions about Zimbabwe: Did we miss the signs?
Negotiations for Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe's departure are underway after military leaders seized control of the government.
Enock Mudzamiri explains how it all happened and where it's going.
Mugabe refusing to step down: source close to military
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, the world's oldest head of state, refused to resign during a crunch meeting Thursday with military generals who pushed him from power and seized control of the country.
The talks in Harare, confirmed to AFP by a source close to the army leadership, came after soldiers blockaded key roads, took over state TV and detained the veteran leader."They met today.
He is refusing to step down. I think he is trying to buy time," said the source, who declined to be named.
Mugabe's motorcade reportedly took him from his private residence to State House for talks which were held alongside meetings with envoys from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc.
Images of the meeting showed Mugabe dressed in a navy blue blazer and grey trousers standing alongside army chief General Constantino Chiwenga who smiled and was dressed in camouflage military fatigues.
Zimbabwe was left stunned at the military intervention against Mugabe, 93, who has ruled the country since independence from British rule in 1980.
Despite Mugabe's refusal to resign, attention has shifted to the prominent figures who could play a role in any transitional government.
'Very delicate time'
Morgan Tsvangirai, a former prime minister and long-time opponent of Mugabe, told journalists in Harare that Mugabe must resign "in the interest of the people".
He added that "a transitional mechanism" would be needed to ensure stability.Tendai Biti, an internationally-respected figure who served as finance minister during the coalition government after the 2008 elections, called it "a very delicate time for Zimbabwe".
"A way has to be worked out to maintain stability. That restoration requires a roadmap and to address the grievances that have led to this situation," he said.
Mugabe's advanced age, poor health and listless public performances fuelled the bitter succession battle between his wife Grace and vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who Mugabe sacked last week.
Mnangagwa, 75, was previously one of Mugabe's most loyal lieutenants, having worked alongside him for decades.
But he fled to South Africa following his dismissal and published a scathing five-page rebuke of Mugabe's leadership and Grace's presidential ambitions.
The military generals were strongly opposed to Grace's rise, while Mnangagwa has maintained close ties to the army and could emerge as the next president.
"People want the constitution to be upheld. The talks should look at how to deal with the Mugabe issue in a progressive manner," political analyst Earnest Mudzengi told AFP.
Eldred Masunungure, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, added that the formation of a "pre-election coalition" could be a viable response to the crisis.
Many Zimbabweans hoped the situation would pave the way to a more prosperous future.
"We needed change. Our situation has been pathetic," said Keresenzia Moyo, 65.
"The economy has been in the doldrums for a very long time. We are happy with what has been done.
"However a spokesman for the ruling ZANU-PF party, Simon Khaya Moyo, insisted it was business as usual."
It's normal, everything is normal with the party," he told AFP.Harare's residents largely ignored the few soldiers still on the streets Thursday and continued commuting, socialising and working.The international community has been watching the crisis closely.
In Paris, the head of the African Union, Guinea's President Alpha Conde, warned on Thursday that the continent "will never accept the military coup d'etat" in Zimbabwe and called for a return to the "constitutional order."
"(Problems) need to be resolved politically by the ZANU-PF party and not with an intervention by the army," added Conde.Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler, called for elections scheduled for 2018 to go ahead.
The state-owned Herald newspaper walked a fine line in its editorial pages on Thursday by remaining loyal to Mugabe but also endorsing the military's action."
The military does not readily interfere... they had to break with this long tradition," it wrote, adding that ZANU-PF "was being soiled by those who should be helping the President".
Mugabe meets regional envoys in Harare - South Africa
President Robert Mugabe and envoys from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) held talks in Harare on Thursday, a South African official said, after the military took control of Zimbabwe.
"They are meeting with President Robert Mugabe at State House now," South African foreign affairs spokesman Clayson Monyela told AFP, declining to give further details.
( Picture: Supplied)
African Union head says will 'never' accept Zimbabwe 'coup'
The head of the African Union said on Thursday that the body "will never accept the military coup d'etat" in Zimbabwe.
"We demand respect for the constitution, a return to the constitutional order and we will never accept the military coup d'etat," Alpha Conde said in an interview with French journalists in Paris.
"We know there are internal problems. They need to be resolved politically by the Zanu-PF party and not with an intervention by the army," added Conde, who is also Guinea's president.
Fall from Grace: Mugabe's wife was his weakness
President Robert Mugabe's downfall was caused by the ambitions of his combative wife Grace, whose emergence as his likely successor proved a step too far for Zimbabwe's military, analysts say.
Grace Mugabe - 41 years younger than her husband - was once dismissed as a lightweight shopping addict.
But she became increasingly active in public life in recent years, and became the frontrunner to take the top job when Mugabe last week sacked her arch-rival, vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The military - determined to stop Grace, 52, being named as the new vice president - moved in on Wednesday, taking control of the country and signalling the imminent end of Mugabe's rule.
"The crisis has been triggered by Grace because she wanted to grab power and to have Mugabe remove a lot of people," Shadrack Gutto, director of the Centre for African Renaissance Studies at the University of South Africa, told AFP.
"She overreached herself. She has done a lot to accelerate the removal of her husband from power."
The military decided that enough is enough."Grace's political plans were backed by the so-called G40, a group of young supporters that has earned a reputation for aggression.
The faction, which includes some ministers, has been the primary target of the military officers who announced on state TV in the early hours of Wednesday that they would bring "criminals" close to Mugabe to justice.
'They had to act'
"The Zimbabwean army feel they have the right to have a president they approve of," Knox Chitiyo, of the Chatham House think-tank, told AFP."
They had to act now before Grace was appointed as vice president at the ZANU-PF party congress next month. Grace's team got within weeks of success.
"Grace, born in South Africa, was one of Mugabe's secretaries when their affair began in 1987, and they had two children in secret before the president's wife died in 1992.
The couple then married at a lavish ceremony in 1996 attended by Nelson Mandela, before having a third child.
Grace was awarded a doctorate by the University of Zimbabwe, where her husband is chancellor, reportedly just three months after enrolling, and in 2014 became the head of the ZANU-PF party's women's wing.
She has often been accused of extravagant spending on luxury clothes and international travel, and of involvement in corrupt land deals.
Dubbed "Gucci Grace", "The First Shopper" or even "DisGrace", she showed her political mettle in 2014 with her campaign against then-vice president Joice Mujuru, who was a contender to succeed her husband.
Grace launched sustained verbal attacks against Mujuru, accusing her of plotting to topple the president.Soon afterwards, Mujuru was ousted and later expelled from the ruling ZANU-PF party.
But Grace's attempt to neutralise Mnangagwa ended very differently - leaving her and her husband languishing under house arrest in Harare.
Grace Mugabe's confrontational approach and distant public image have brought her little popular affection in Zimbabwe.
Despite that, her supporters have sought to popularise nicknames like "Dr Amai (Doctor Mother)" and "queen of queens".
In speeches, she had railed against anyone accused of disloyalty to the president, and her short temper hit the headlines in August when she allegedly assaulted a model who was with two of her sons at a South African hotel.
Grace was granted diplomatic immunity and made a swift exit from the country.She once told a South African television programme that she is no longer concerned about what people think of her.
"I have developed a thick skin, I don't even care," she said.
"My husband says ignorance is bliss."
With President Mugabe in increasingly poor health, Grace may now seek exile or try to secure some level of protection for her and her family as Zimbabwe enters a new era.
Witnesses are confirming the sighting of the motorcade of Zimbabwe President
Robert Mugabe moving through the capital, Harare.
They say a helicopter was hovering at the same time the motorcade was
It was not immediately clear where the motorcade was going.
Zimbabweans are seizing on the political limbo to urge the president to
peacefully step aside after decades in power.
Zimbabweans weigh an uncertain future without longtime leader Robert Mugabe pic.twitter.com/f5UI9lcrfC— AFP news agency (@AFP) November 16, 2017
Zimbabweans weigh an uncertain future without longtime leader Robert Mugabe pic.twitter.com/f5UI9lcrfC
The press conference has ended.
We have a national crisis, and as leadership, we must confront this, says Tsvangirai.
Stunned Zimbabweans contemplate uncertain future without Mugabe
Zimbabweans on Thursday weighed a future without their leader of nearly four decades after the army placed 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe, a liberation hero turned authoritarian leader, under house arrest.
Many citizens have not known a time without Mugabe, who has dominated every aspect of public life since coming to power in 1980 on the country's independence from Britain.
The nation was left stunned after the veteran president was confined to his residence late Tuesday, soldiers took up positions at strategic points across Harare and senior officers commandeered state television.
The Southern African Development Community, a bloc currently chaired by Zimbabwe's neighbour South Africa, was to meet in Botswana later Thursday to discuss the dramatic situation.
Nothing has been heard from Mugabe or his 52-year-old wife Grace since the start of the army operation.
But many Zimbabweans hoped the crisis would pave the way to a more prosperous future.
"Our economic situation has deteriorated every day -- no employment, no jobs," Tafadzwa Masango, a 35-year-old unemployed man, told AFP.
"We hope for a better Zimbabwe after the Mugabe era.
"We feel very happy. It is now his time to go."However a spokesman for Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, Simon Khaya Moyo, insisted it was business as usual."It's normal, everything is normal with the party," he told AFP.
Mujuru 'unaware' of transitional govt talks for Zimbabwe
Former vice president of Zimbabwe Joice Mujuru said on Thursday that she was unaware of talks about a transitional government.
'We want a clear roadmap,' civil groups say amid Zim crisis
Zimbabwe's civil society organisations (CSOs) have called for a "clear and implementable road map", as the country's political deadlock after a military takeover on Wednesday continued.
Mnangagwa 'has been planning a post-Mugabe vision for more than a year' – report
Zimbabwe's ex-deputy president Emmerson Mnangagwa has been mapping out a post-Robert Mugabe vision with the military and opposition for more than a year, says intelligence reports according to Reuters.
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