HARARE, President Mugabe of Zimbabwe was supposed to have been deposed in December last year but his last stand was brought forward when vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa was axed.

It is learnt that the military, political players and diplomats had been hatching the plan for some time in order to prevent the ascendancy at the congress of the G40 faction of Zanu-PF. Its figurehead is First Lady Grace Mugabe.

Several governments in the region and abroad had been made aware of the plan and had no objection. They insisted that there be no bloodshed and that the overthrow should not be characterised as a coup.

Mnangagwa's axing from the Zanu-PF leadership and his government position was meant to pave the way for Grace to succeed Mugabe. But it had the opposite effect, speeding up her own demise and ending her husband's 37-year rule.

Sources said that a senior Zimbabwean diplomat sensitised regional governments to the idea and necessity of the coup and received assurances that there would be no military intervention.

Yesterday, in Harare, thousands of people protested at a mass rally and, while chanting he must go!, marched to Mugabe's Blue Roof mansion to demand that the 93-year-old leader step down immediately.

Similar rallies in support of the army's action took place in other cities around the country.

The Zimbabwe Defence Force (ZDF), led by General Constantino Chiwenga, took control of the country on Tuesday night, placed Mugabe and Grace under house arrest, parked tanks outside key government buildings and took over the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.

Army spokesperson Major General Sibusiso Moyo went on air to tell viewers that the military was in charge, in order to ensure that it dealt with the criminals in Mugabe's inner circle.

We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country, in order to bring them to justice, Moyo said.


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