Zim's war veterans say it’s time Mugabe is removed

The country's military seized power early on Wednesday morning but gave assurances on national television that the 93-year-old leader and his family were 'safe and sound'.

FILE: Zimbabwe’s former President Robert Mugabe. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - While President Jacob Zuma deploys envoys to politically-charged Zimbabwe, that country's War Veterans Association says it’s time that Robert Mugabe is removed.

The association's Victor Matemadanda has held a briefing praising the military takeover, saying its "for the good of Zimbabwe".

The war veterans also say they are happy that they've taken back the ruling Zanu PF party.

Matemadanda said: “We urge that Robert Gabriel Mugabe should be recalled from his role as the president and first secretary of Zanu-PF. We also want to facilitate good and proper running of political parties in the forthcoming elections.”

The country's military seized power early on Wednesday morning targeting so-called "criminals" around Mugabe but gave assurances on national television that the 93-year-old leader and his family were "safe and sound".

Both Al Jazeera and CNN earlier reported that the whereabouts of Mugabe were unknown.

However, Zuma has confirmed that he spoke to Mugabe earlier on Wednesday.

“I have also contacted his Excellency President Mugabe whom I had time to talk to and he is fine but confined in his home.”

In his capacity as South African Development Community chair, Zuma said: “Of course, given the seriousness of the situation I have taken a decision to send an envoy to be able to contact the leaders of the defence force who have undertaken the operation but also to meet with President Mugabe.”

Zuma has called for calm and restraint.

“We are hoping that this situation is going to be controlled so that peace and stability come back to Zimbabwe.”

'GIVE MUGABE'S FAMILY POLITICAL ASYLUM'

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is calling on the South African government to give Mugabe and his family political asylum.

The EFF's Mbuyiseni Ndlozi says Mugabe must hand over political power to the next generation.

“For the interest of peace that Mugabe and his family are given political asylum in South Africa. The level of detail of that can be discussed by the government but in order for a peaceful transition, to allow the transition to happen as quickly as possible..."

State radio has resumed some of its normal broadcasts.

The ZBC's main broadcasting centre in Harare was taken over by the army in the early hours of the morning.

Since early on Wednesday morning, state-run radio and TV have only been replaying statements from the defence forces commander and the army spokesman.

Shortly afternoon stations resumed normal broadcasts, playing music other than songs from the country’s independence war.

Lunchtime news did feature items other than the army statement that was made early in morning. It included lists of fixtures for premier league soccer matches.

A special edition of the state-run _Herald _is due on the streets this afternoon: it’s editor-in-chief, Caesar Zvayi tweeted a picture of the front page with the headline: No military takeover.

BRITAIN REACTS

Countries around the world are reacting to the volatile situation.

Britain has reacted to the takeover.

It's appealed to all sides in the former British colony to refrain from violence.

British foreign secretary Boris Johnson says while it is difficult to predict how the situation will turn out, the most important thing is for a stable and successful Zimbabwe to emerge.

The European Union, meanwhile, is calling for dialogue in Zimbabwe and a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

France has also just commented on the situation.

It says its closed the French school in Zimbabwe as part of broader security measures given to French expatriates.

At the same time, the government of Botswana has issued a travel advisory calling on Batswana to avoid travelling to Zimbabwe.

ZIMBABWE COMMUNIST PARTY BLAMES ZANU-PF

The Zimbabwean Communist Party has blamed the ruling party Zanu-PF of creating the current hostile environment in the country.

The party says while it acknowledges that the military is now in charge of the country, it should invite relevant stakeholders to an urgent consultative meeting to map a way forward in convening an interim government.

General Secretary Nicholas Mabhena says the army should assure the safety of the general public in its mission to change what he has labelled as a looting state to a constitutionally abiding one.

“Zimbabweans in their generality are peace loving people and they want to see peace prevailing. We are calling for an urgent consultation to say, ‘under these conditions how then do we prevail?’.”

GALLERY: On the ground in Zimbabwe