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[ALERT] Zuma calls for calm, restraint in Zimbabwe

Speaking in a statement on behalf of the SADC, President Zuma expressed his great concern over the unfolding political situation in Zimbabwe.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma has called for calm and restraint in Zimbabwe after the military seized control on Wednesday.

Speaking in a statement on behalf of the SADC, President Zuma expressed his great concern over the unfolding political situation in Zimbabwe.

He said that he hope that developments in the country would not lead to unconstitutional changes of government, as that would be contrary to both SADC and African Union positions.

Zuma also urged the Zimbabwean government and its military forces to resolve the political impasse amicably and called on the military to ensure that peace and security in the country was not compromised.

The president is set to make an announcement on the developing situation in Zimbabwe before 1pm this afternoon.

Zimbabwe is engulfed by an atmosphere of uncertainty with reports that President Robert Mugabe and his family are under house arrest.

Spokesperson Clayson Monyela says: “I have just been called now by the Presidency to inform that the head of state will like to speak on the issue, so I expect that possibly before 1 pm there will be something from the presidency.

“He’s currently in Cabinet as you know, so there will probably be a statement.”

Zimbabwe's military was deployed to the streets in front of government offices, courts and parliament.

But the army insists that Mugabe and his family are safe.

There were reports of at least three explosions in the capital just before the army briefly seized control of the state broadcaster this morning.

Veteran Zimbabwean journalist Peta Thornycroft says she believes all indications are that the developments can be categorized as a military coup.

“In my opinion, this is a military coup but there’s mass shooting and they haven’t gotten control of the government itself. They’re guarding the parliament, they’re guarding the new government building, they have taken control of Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.”

At the same time, amnesty international says while it can't comment on the political turmoil in Zim it's calling on the army to guarantee the safety of citizens.

Spokesperson Robert Shivambu says human rights must be protected during this uncertain time.

“We’d like to believe that they are thinking about human rights. We’re concerned but we’d like to see them leading by the word and showing that everyone, particularly civilians, are not caught in the fire.”

GALLERY: On the ground in Zimbabwe

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