Zimbabweans 'Confused, Anxious' Over Alleged Coup Against President, Christian Leaders 'Disturbed'

Military vehicles and soldiers patrol the streets in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 15,2017.
Military vehicles and soldiers patrol the streets in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 15,2017. | (Photo: REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo)

Christian leaders are speaking out amidst the growing uncertainty in Zimbabwe following the alleged coup against President Robert Mugabe, with some saying they are "disturbed" at what is unfolding.

Bishop Abel Gabuza of Kimberley, who chairs the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference justice and peace commission, told Catholic News Service on Wednesday that "we are very disturbed at what's happening" in neighboring Zimbabwe.

"This is the price one pays when the democratic process has been undermined for so long" Gabuza said, adding that the latest developments have "all the ingredients of a coup."

As Sky News reported, military in Zimbabwe have taken control of key government buildings in Harare, the capital, including the state broadcaster, while Mugabe has been placed under military guard.

Major General SB Moyo has denied that there has been a coup, however, and has claimed that the 93-year-old president is still in charge of the country.

BBC News added on Thursday morning that Mugabe, who led the nation for 37 years, is still under house arrest, and is resisting pressure to resign.

The military decided to act against the controversial president on Wednesday after Mugabe decided to back his wife, Grace, to succeed him as leader against her rival Emmerson Mnangagwa, the former vice-president who he fired for "disloyalty and deceit."

The power struggle has apparently divided the ruling Zanu-PF party, creating further strife in the economically hard-hit country.

The Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations met in Harare in the midst of the crisis, and have called for an interim government to be formed to "oversee the smooth transition to a free and fair election."

The Christian leaders added that citizens are "confused and anxious about what has transpired and continues to unfold in our nation."

They also said that the military needs to know that "it is their responsibility to ensure that human dignity and rights are respected."

The church representatives explained that although big changes have come in the past few days, "the real deterioration has been visible for everyone to see for a long time."

The Christian leaders said that there is "no chasm that is too big not to be crossed through the power of reconciliation," however, warning that "without reconciliation and openness to a process of shared national envisioning, we are all doomed."

South Africa has sheltered millions of economic refugees that have arrived from Zimbabwe over the past decades, with many blaming Mugabe's policies for the country's financial troubles.

"We hope a resolution is found soon," Gabuza added, noting that the southern African region needs a "politically and economically stable Zimbabwe."

Reuters reported that Catholic priest Fidelis Mukonori is acting as a middle-man between Mugabe and military officials, with talks seeking for a smooth transition of power.

The president has been resistant to the mediation by the priest, the intelligence source said, however, with his future very much unclear.

Despite the political drama unfolding in the country, there have not yet been reports of violence or unrest on the streets.

Tendai Biti, a Zimbabwean opposition leader, told BBC that there needs to be a transitional authority.

"It is urgent that we go back to democracy," Biti said. "It is urgent that we go back to legitimacy but we need a transitional period and I think, I hope, that dialogue can now be opened between the army and Zimbabweans."

Follow Stoyan Zaimov on Facebook: CPSZaimov

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