ZANU-PF youth leader apologises to military

FILE PHOTO: President Robert Mugabe talks to General Constantino Chiwenga in Harare, Zimbabwe, July 4, 2008.
FILE PHOTO: President Robert Mugabe talks to General Constantino Chiwenga in Harare, Zimbabwe, July 4, 2008.
Image: REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

The head of the youth wing of Zimbabwe's ruling party on Wednesday publicly apologised on state television to the military, which has seized power saying it aims to isolate "criminals" in President Robert Mugabe’s entourage.

Kudzai Chipanga, whose powerful ZANU-PF youth wing has been a strong supporter of Mugabe and his wife Grace, said he had voluntarily given his statement. 

It was an abrupt about-face for Chipanga, who on Tuesday accused the army chief of subverting the constitution.

“Defending the revolution and our leader and president is an ideal we live for and if need be it is a principle we are prepared to die for,” Chipanga had said at the party’s headquarters in Harare.

'Show restraint' - US urges leaders

The United States expressed concern on Wednesday over the political crisis in Zimbabwe, where the military has apparently placed President Robert Mugabe under house arrest.

A State Department official said the US embassy in Harare has been closed to the public as a safety precaution and a message has been sent urging American citizens to shelter at home.

“The US government is concerned by recent actions undertaken by Zimbabwe’s military forces,” the official said.

“We call on all Zimbabwean leaders to exercise restraint, respect the rule of law, uphold the constitutionally-protected rights of all citizens, and to quickly resolve differences to allow for a rapid return to normalcy,” he added.

“The United States does not take sides in matters of internal Zimbabwean politics and does not condone military intervention in political processes.” Military vehicles were stationed around key government buildings in Harare on Wednesday after officers announced an operation to purge Mugabe’s entourage of “criminals.”

They insisted that they had not seized power, but President Jacob Zuma of neighboring South Africa said Mugabe had told him he was confined to his home.

- Additional reporting by AFP

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