The Bishop of Harare has urged President Robert Mugabe and the military leaders behind Wednesday’s coup to pursue non-violent regime change in Zimbabwe. Speaking to Premier Christian Radio on 16 Nov 2017, the Rt. Rev. Chad Gandiya said: “We are concerned about violence – nobody wants violence and we are grateful that the authorities at this time are also encouraging us all not to be violent.”
In the early hours of 15 Nov 2017 the army left their barracks and took control of parliament, government ministries, the presidential palace, and transport hubs. A spokesman for the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) denied the army had seized power, saying they were acting to protect the 93 year president from “criminal” elements in his entourage including the head of the security services.
On 16 Nov 2017 the state owned Harare Herald published photos of a meeting between President Mugabe and the Army Chief, General Constantino Chiwenga (pictured during happier days) brokered by South African Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. Fr. Fidelis Mukonori SJ, a long time friend of the president, was present also at the meeting.
Former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had been fired by President Mugabe last week, returned to Harare from South Africa, with the backing of the army. Vice President Mnangagwa was being treated for poisoning at a South African hospital, and had blamed Grace Mugabe, the president’s wife and his rival for power, for the assassination attempt.
Dr. Gandiya told Premier the situation was so far calm. On Wednesday it “was very quiet, and today it is also quiet. People are going about their normal duties, but obviously people are a little bit sensitive to the situation, but we thank God that there is quietness in the country and in the city of Harare in particular.
“As a church, we are concerned that what we are going through is peaceful. We are concerned about violence – nobody wants violence and we are grateful that the authorities at this time are also encouraging us all not to be violent. We are concerned that whatever changes are in store for us, these take place in a peaceful manner.”
The bishop added: “The situation is still unfolding, and so people can speculate about this and that,” he said, “but I think the reality is that the army is definitely still in control.”
He said it was his prayer “that when elections do take place they will be free and fair”, noting the damage to the economy and the fabric of society that had arisen was temporary and that Zimbabwe, the jewel of Africa “will sparkle again.”