Zimbabwe: Oxfam prays for democracy after military takeover as priest mediates Mugabe’s exit

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International charity, Oxfam, has expressed hope that democracy in Zimbabwe would hold after the country’s military took over.
Stewart Muchapera, Oxfam’s media and communications adviser for Southern Africa, told Sputnik: “For now, I think everything is calm and there is an air of opportunity. The situation remains calm and our hope is that the tenants of democracy should hold,”

On Tuesday, media reported that armored vehicles had been moving toward the Zimbabwean capital of Harare.
Media also said that there were explosions in the city. The country’s military explained that it was mobilising against the criminals. Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe is reportedly under heavy guard. Muchapera, who is on ground in Harare, said despite a large-scale military presence in Harare, residents have continued with their everyday lives.
“I think in terms of armored vehicles they are only in strategic points and people are going on with their day-to-day lives and there have not been any shots in the streets.

“Yes, there is a heavy presence of soldiers in the city but everything is normal,” Muchapera said.
The ongoing situation is unlikely to affect the charity’s activities in the country, the Oxfam communications adviser added.

“[Our operations will] not necessarily [be affected]. Our operations are going on and we are continuing our investment into the community. “We are here to help the needy in the community,” Muchapera said.
On November 6, Mugabe fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had been considered the president’s potential successor and had the support of the armed forces.
On Monday, Constantine Chiwenga, the commander of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces, called on the president to end the purge within the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) party, from which Mnangagwa had been expelled.


Meanwhile, a Catholic priest is mediating a potential political exit for Mugabe, although the 93-year-old is insisting he can only be removed via a party leadership vote, political and intelligence sources said on Thursday.
Separately, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who has been receiving cancer treatment outside Zimbabwe, returned to Harare late on Wednesday, a party spokesman said, fuelling speculation about a post-Mugabe political settlement.

Zimbabwe was on a knife’s edge on Thursday after the military seized power in what it dubbed a targeted operation against “criminals” in the entourage of Mugabe, who has ruled the southern African nation for almost four decades.
It was not clear whether the apparent military coup would bring a formal end to the 93-year-old Mugabe’s rule.
The main goal of the generals appeared to be preventing Mugabe’s wife Grace, 41 years his junior, from succeeding him.

Local media reported South Africa’s defence and state security ministers, dispatched by President Jacob Zuma as regional envoys, arrived in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, on Wednesday night and were expected to meet both Mugabe and the military.
Their ultimate goal was not clear. Zuma earlier called for “calm and restraint” and asked the defence forces “to ensure that peace and stability are not undermined in Zimbabwe,” South Africa’s neighbor, which has lurched from crisis to crisis over the past two decades.

The South African presidency said Mugabe had told Zuma over the phone that he was confined to his home but was otherwise fine and the military said it was keeping him and his family safe.
Mugabe, still seen by many Africans as a liberation hero, is reviled in the West as a despot whose disastrous handling of the economy and willingness to resort to violence to maintain power destroyed one of Africa’s most promising states.

He plunged Zimbabwe into a fresh political crisis last week by firing his vice president and presumed successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75 – known as the “crocodile” – for showing “traits of disloyalty”.
The generals believed that move was aimed at clearing a path for Grace Mugabe to take over and said on Monday they were prepared to “step in” if purges of their allies did not end.

Tanks blocked roads after dark and soldiers with automatic weapons kept up their patrols, but the situation appeared calm.
Whatever the final outcome, the events could signal a once-in-a-generation change for the former British colony, a regional breadbasket reduced to destitution by economic policies Mugabe’s critics have long blamed on him.

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