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On the evening of 14 November 2017, elements of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) gathered around Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, and seized control of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and other areas of the city. The next day, the ZDF issued a statement saying that it was not a coup d'état and that President Robert Mugabe was safe, although the situation would only return to normal after the ZDF had dealt with the "criminals" around Mugabe responsible for the socio-economic problems of Zimbabwe. Jacob Zuma, the President of South Africa, phoned Mugabe and confirmed that Mugabe was "fine", but under house arrest.
Quick facts: Belligerents, Commanders and leaders …
The coup took place amid tensions in the ruling ZANU–PF party between former Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa (who was backed by the army) and First Lady Grace Mugabe (who was backed by the younger G40 faction) over who would succeed the 93-year-old President Mugabe. A week after Mnangagwa was fired and forced to flee the country, and a day before troops moved into Harare, Zimbabwe Defence Forces chief Constantino Chiwengaissued a statement that purges of senior ZANU–PF officials like Mnangagwa had to stop.
On Sunday, 19 November, Mugabe was replaced as the leader of ZANU–PF by Mnangagwa. However, despite suggestions to the contrary, Mugabe publicly stated that he would not step down as President of Zimbabwe.

Background

Early October 2017

Robert Mugabe and Grace Mugabe in 2013
In the first week of October 2017, tensions between Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Grace Mugabe, two leading figures to replace the 93-year-old Robert Mugabe as President of Zimbabwe, were prominently displayed in the public sphere. Mnangagwa, a protege of Mugabe's who had been his ally since the Zimbabwe War of Independence in the 1960s, said that doctors had confirmed that he had been poisoned during an August 2017 political rally led by the president and had to be airlifted to a hospital in South Africa for treatment. He also pledged his loyalty to the ZANU–PF party and President Mugabe and said that the story spread by his supporters that Grace Mugabe had ordered the poisoning via a dairy farm she controlled was untrue.
Grace Mugabe denied the poisoning claims as ridiculous and rhetorically asked: "Who is Mnangagwa, who is he?" Phelekezela Mphoko, Zimbabwe's other Vice-President, publicly criticised Mnangagwa, saying that his comments about the August incident were part of an attempt to weaken the country, the power of the president, and divide ZANU–PF, since doctors had actually concluded that stale food was to blame.

4–6 October 2017

During a planned speech in Harare, Grace Mugabe went off-script to attack Mnangagwa, saying that her supporters were constantly receiving threats that if Mnangagwa did not succeed Mugabe, they would be killed and that the faction backing Mnangagwa was plotting a coup d'état.
At a rally, President Mugabe publicly rebuked Mnangagwa for the first time. At the same rally, Grace Mugabe called him a "coup plotter" and a "coward". The president fired Mnangagwa on 6 November. A statement from Information Minister Simon Khaya-Moyo said that Mnangagwa had "consistently and persistently exhibited traits of disloyalty, disrespect, deceitfulness and unreliability." Two days after his dismissal, Mnangagwa fled to South Africa to escape "incessant threats" against his family. On 8 November 2017, Mnangagwa issued a statement saying that he did not plan to harm Mugabe. He told Mugabe, "You and your cohorts will instead leave ZANU–PF by the will of the people and this we will do in the coming few weeks." Mnangagwa vowed to return and called for members of ZANU–PF to abandon the president. After his exile, more than a hundred of Mnangagwa's alleged senior supporters were targeted for disciplinary sanctions by backers of Grace Mugabe.
Mnangagwa's dismissal essentially left Grace Mugabe and her Generation 40 (G40) faction of younger ZANU–PF officials as the only major contender to succeed Robert Mugabe. Mnangagwa was one of Mugabe's last political allies who had stayed with him since independence in 1980, and had the support of several generals in the Zimbabwean army, who had publicly stated that only a veteran of the war for independence – which would rule out Grace Mugabe – should rule the country. Although Mugabe had depended on support from the military to maintain his rule, in the last few years, he had undertaken a systematic replacement of old veterans from the war of independence in important ZANU–PF party positions with younger officials who did not fight in the war. This move was seen as risky because Grace Mugabe is a divisive figure in Zimbabwe and does not have much support from important ZANU–PF officials from the liberation war era or in the South African region.

13 November 2017

Zimbabwean army chief General Constantino Chiwengacalled a press conference at the military headquarters where he read a statement saying that the army would intervene if their historical political allies continued to be targeted.  He called recent events "treacherous shenanigans" and said that the military "will not hesitate to step in" if that was necessary to protect the Zimbabwean revolution. Chiwenga also urged people to attend the December 2017 ZANU–PF party congress to exercise their democratic rights and that the party had been infiltrated by counter-revolutionaries. He also said that the infighting and purges in ZANU–PF had led to chaos and "no meaningful development in the country for the past five years." The statement was made with ninety high-ranking officers from important units of the Zimbabwe National Army present to present an image of army unity. The statement was originally broadcast on Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, the state broadcaster, but pulled off the air, though there was no initial official government response.

Timeline of events

14 November 2017

Military armoured vehicles were spotted on roadways around Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, and drove in convoys through the city. The same day, Kudzanayi Chipanga, the leader of the ruling ZANU–PF party's youth league, which is aligned with Grace Mugabe, said that the Youth League was "ready to die" to try and prevent the army from deposing Mugabe and choosing a new leader, and that the generals should retire if they were unsatisfied with Mugabe's rule and wanted to become politicians. Mugabe attended a weekly meeting of the Zimbabwe cabineton Tuesday afternoon. In the early evening after the cabinet meeting, Simon Khaya-Moyo spoke for ZANU–PF and accused army chief General Chiwenga of treason and inciting insurrection.
That evening, soldiers took over the Harare offices of the state broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), manhandling some of its employees. Workers at the ZBC were later told that they did not have to worry and that the troops were protecting the station. According to the military, the reason for its actions was because the ZBC had been ordered not to broadcast the military's statement on Monday.
Around 10:30pm, Albert Ngulube, director of security of the Zimbabwean Central Intelligence Organisation was arrested by soldiers after leaving Robert Mugabe's home.:6 He was beaten up at the Presidential Guard headquarters and was released on Friday, 17 November for medical treatment at a private hospital in the capital.:6

15 November 2017

The army then proceeded to raid twenty other people.:6Education minister Jonathan Moyo was tipped off by a member of the army on early Wednesday morning and fled to Local Government Saviour Kasukuwere's home with his family.:6 That home was then attacked by the army around 2.30am with gunfire before ceasing and allowing the two families to escape to Mugabe's home.:6 The army also raided Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo's home but they came under fire from his private Israeli security guards.:6 One member of the guard died.:6Chombo was detained and assaulted by the troops, with $10 million found in the house.:6 Police duties had been restricted and the Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri was missing presumed arrested.:6
At 5 am Major General Sibusiso Moyo, the army chief of staff and an ally of Chiwenga's, spoke on behalf of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces in a broadcast on ZBC. Moyo asserted that it was not a military takeover and that President Mugabe was safe. However the statement also said that the military was "targeting criminals" around Mugabe responsible for the country's socio-economic problems, and that after they achieved their aims, the situation would "return to normalcy". Moyo announced that all military leave was cancelled, soldiers should return to their barracks, security forces should "cooperate for the good of our country", and that "any provocation will be met with an appropriate response". Moyo also said that the independence of the judiciary of Zimbabwe was guaranteed and that citizens should remain calm and avoid unnecessary movement.
After the speech, the military apprehended Ignatius Chombo, the Zimbabwean finance minister and a leader of G40, the pro-Grace Mugabe faction of ZANU–PF. According to South Africa's The Times, other cabinet ministers seized who were leaders in G40 include Jonathan Moyo‚ minister of higher education and Saviour Kasukuwere, minister of local governments.
Also early that morning, gunfire and artillery were heard in the northern suburbs of Harare, where many government officials, including the president, have their residences. According to Agence France-Presse, a witness heard sustained gunfire near Mugabe's private home in the suburb of Borrowdale. Reutersreported an explosion close to the main campus of the University of Zimbabwe. Soldiers also blocked access to the Parliament of Zimbabwe, government buildings, courthouses, and the president's official residence in Harare. It was reported that two journalists were assaulted by the military whilst covering the coup, and hospitalised.
The military announced a press conference for Wednesday morning, where it was expected that the officers leading the coup would present a deal with President Mugabe that settled his fate and that of his allies. However, the conference was delayed and then cancelled outright, possibly because of a breakdown in negotiations between Mugabe and the military.
For most of Wednesday morning, state-controlled television and radio stations simply rebroadcast Major General Moyo's statement without further news updates, and played patriotic songs from the 1980s about independence alongside normal programming. State-owned newspaper The Herald ran headlines downplaying the military's actions and its website ran a live blog under the headline "Live and developing: No Military Takeover in Zim."
By Wednesday afternoon, the roadblocks around key government buildings in Harare had been removed, armoured vehicles were off the streets, and there was no longer extra security in the Borrowdale suburb, where most senior officials had their private homes. Although there was less overall traffic in the city, ordinary activities like school, administrative offices, and businesses returned to normal. Outside Harare, including Bulawayo, the country's second-largest city, Zimbabweans experienced little to no added military presence.
The same day, ZBC broadcast an apology from ZANU–PF youth wing leader Chipanga to General Chiwenga, whom he had criticised the day before. Chipanga said that he made his statement voluntarily and that he and other members of the youth league "are still young and make mistakes".
Morgan Tsvangirai, the former Prime Minister and leader of the main opposition party Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai, returned from receiving cancer treatments abroad, according to his spokesperson. Soon after his return to the country, Tsvangirai called for Mugabe to step down.

16–18 November 2017

On 16 November 2017, ZANU–PF MP and government minister Paul Chimedza was arrested at an army roadblock in Bubiwhile attempting to flee to South Africa. In Harare, armoured vehicles remained at key locations.
On 17 November 2017, Mugabe presided at a graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe Open University.
On 18 November 2017, there were well-attended and exuberant but peaceful public demonstrations in Harare and in all major towns in the country, supporting the actions of the army and celebrating the apparent end of Mugabe's presidency. Demonstrators also massed outside his office calling on him to quit. Protesters booed and jeered a motorcade that left Mugabe's residence, although a security source stated that Mugabe was not travelling.

19 November 2017

On 19 November 2017, Mugabe was sacked by his party. However, in a speech delivered in Harare, and broadcast on state television around the country, Mugabe ignored the party's actions and the political pressure around him, declining to resign and saying he would preside over the upcoming party conference.ZANU-PF issued Mugabe a deadline of noon on 20 November to resign or face impeachment.

Mugabe's house arrest and negotiations with the military

President Robert Mugabe, 93, who under different titles has led Zimbabwe since 1980
Major General Moyo's initial statement said that "Mugabe and his family are safe and sound, and their security is guaranteed", indicating that President Mugabe and Grace Mugabe were likely both under military custody, though no clarifications were initially issued. South African President Jacob Zuma said that Robert Mugabe had been placed under house arrest by the Zimbabwe military. Mugabe told Zuma in a phone call that he was fine but was unable to leave his home.
Sky News reported that there were unconfirmed reports that Grace Mugabe had fled to Namibia. The Guardian also initially cited unconfirmed reports that she was in Namibia for a business trip, but later reported that she was apparently in detention with the rest of the family. On 15 November, Namibia neither confirmed nor denied the reports that Grace Mugabe was in the country.However, on 16 November, state-owned newspaper New Eraquoted Namibian deputy prime minister, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwahdenying that Grace Mugabe was in the country.
On Wednesday, 15 November, South African Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and State Security Minister Bongani Bongo arrived at the Harare airport but were not allowed to leave the airport until the evening when they were allowed to move to a hotel.:6 On Thursday, 16 November Mugabe was at Harare's State House to participate in talks with General Chiwenga and the two envoys from the Southern African Development Communityover a transition of power. His friend and Catholic priest Father Fidelis Mukonori acted as a mediator. According to sources referred to by The Daily Telegraph and BBC News, Mugabe and his allies do not support his voluntary resignation before the end of his presidential term, which would coincide with the planned general election in 2018. That same day, The Independent reported that ZANU–PF leaders planned to meet the next day to draft a resolution dismissing Mugabe as President on 19 November and impeaching him on 21 November if he refuses to step down.
On Friday, 17 November, Mugabe appeared to have been temporarily released from his house arrest to attend a graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe Open University in Harare.
On 19 November, Emmerson Mnangagwa (pictured above in 2015) replaced Mugabe as the leader of ZANU–PF.
On Sunday, 19 November, Mugabe was sacked as leader of ZANU–PF, and Emmerson Mnangagwa, the former Zimbabwean Vice President, appointed in his place. Reports emerged that Mugabe was on hunger strike, refusing to voluntarily step down as President of Zimbabwe. Reports later that day suggested that Mugabe would resign during a television address that evening. However, during that address he said that he would remain as president.

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