Zimbabwe's army said it has President Robert Mugabe and his wife in custody and was securing government offices and patrolling the capital's streets following a night of unrest that included a military takeover of the state broadcaster. Heavy gunfire and artillery were heard in northern suburbs of the capital, Harare, early on Wednesday. However, Isaac Moyo, Zimbabwe's ambassador in South Africa, claimed the government remains "intact".
This came after reports emerging that the Zimbabwean soldiers with Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF) reportedly seized control of the state broadcasting outlet in the wee hours of the Wednesday morning.
"We want to assure the nation that His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde R.G. Mugabe and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed", Moyo said.
The statement added: "We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes... that are causing social and economic suffering in the country".
According to the army general, they expect that the situation will return to normalcy "as soon as we have accomplished our mission".
In response to the conference, Mugabe's political party, Zanu-PF, accused Chiwenga of "treasonable conduct".
Chiwenga said: "We must remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that, when it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in".
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Zanu-PF, Mugabe's party, gave a statement denying there had been a coup.
Mnangagwa's dismissal left Mugabe's wife Grace, 52, in prime position to succeed her husband as the next president - a succession strongly opposed by senior ranks in the military.
The leader of Zanu-PF's youth wing, Kudzai Chipanga, told reporters: "It is our country and future at stake and we will not let any individual military man interfere with the leader of the party and legitimately voted president of this country".
The previous day, Chiwenga had made clear the army's refusal to accept the removal of Mnangagwa - like the generals a veteran of Zimbabwe's anti-colonial liberation war - and the presumed accession of Grace, once a secretary in the government typing pool. Four years later, Mugabe and Grace were married.
Tensions between the veteran leader and the military, which has long helped prop up his authoritarian rule, have erupted in public in recent days.
Target: The military say they are going after "criminals". She was expected to be Zimbabwe's next leader after the President fired his deputy and former security chief Emmerson Mnangagwa a few months ago, apparently to make way for her ascension.
Decades ago, Zimbabwe had one of Africa's promising economies due in part to its agricultural exports.