Zimbabwe army ends intervention that led to Mugabe’s ouster

Zimbabwe National Army commander Phillip Valerio Sibanda on Monday in Harare, where he asked citizens to remain alert for "malcontents and saboteurs"

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s army chiefs announced Monday the end of the military intervention which forced former president Robert Mugabe to resign, while urging citizens to remain alert and allow a smooth transition of government.

“The defence and security services come before you to pronounce the end of Operation Restore Legacy,” Zimbabwe National Army commander Phillip Valerio Sibanda told journalists.

“Normalcy has now returned to our country. We want to thank all Zimbabweans for their support, patience and understanding during the five weeks of Operation Restore Legacy,” he added.

Sibanda also called on people to be on alert for “malcontents and saboteurs”.

“Your defence and security services would like to remind all Zimbabweans to remain vigilant and report any suspicious objects and individuals to law enforcement agents.

“This is because some of the members of the (G40) cabal that had surrounded the former head of state are now bad-mouthing the country from foreign lands, where their intentions to harm the peace and tranquility that exist in our country have been pronounced,” he said.

He was referring to the Generation-40 group that supported Mugabe’s wife Grace in the succession fight.

Sibanda said the military had handed over “all normal day-to-day policing duties to the Zimbabwe Republic Police.”

“We urge all our citizens to allow for a smooth transition.”

Zimbabwe’s military took over the country’s affairs on November 15 as internal feuding escalated in the governing ZANU-PF party over the Mugabe’s succession.

The army had said it was targeting Mugabe’s corrupt allies when it seized control, just a few days after Mugabe dismissed his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had strong links to the military and was widely seen as the president’s likely successor.

The army’s intervention was followed by mass street protests against Mugabe and a motion to impeach the veteran ruler, who resigned in a letter to parliament as proceedings to recall him began.

The ZANU-PF then appointed Mnangagwa to the presidency.

He has pledged to mend strained relations with the west and revive the Zimbabwe’s moribund economy.

Since then Mnangagwa has appointed several military officers to his cabinet, including the former airforce chief Perrance Shiri, who became the new lands and agriculture minister.

And at the party’s congress last week he appointed a senior military officer to take over as the party’s commissar, a secretary-level post, which has stoked fears of violence ahead of general elections set for next year, which Mnangagwa has vowed will be “free and fair”.

“There is no need for violence,” he said in a keynote party speech last week.