FOREIGN affairs minister Walter Mzembi confirmed Wednesday that he was a fugitive as cabinet colleagues and G40 allies Jonathan Moyo and Saviour Kasukuwere were reportedly picked up by the military.
by Gilbert Nyambabvu
Also detained was finance minister Ignatius Chombo amid social media rumours claiming that he was found with US$10m in cash at his Harare home.
Moyo and Kasukuwere had been holed up at President Robert Mugabe’s private mansion in the capital. They were reportedly extracted from the property late Wednesday and detained at the army’s KG6 barracks.
Meanwhile, Mzembi, who was out of the country as the military takeover unfolded, confirmed that he was now a fugitive.
The minister, a Mugabe favourite, was recently promoted to the foreign affairs portfolio after his unsuccessful bid to become secretary general of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
“I just got a surprise solidarity call from UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai and Hon Charles Banda of Zambia,” Mzembi told a global travel publication Wednesday.
He did not disclose his whereabouts, but added; “I am touched by the expression of empathy and sympathy for my well-being and that of my family under these difficult circumstances.
“It really got to the bottom of my heart that a country I carried the cross for most recently in the UNWTO elections could be seeking to create a fugitive out of me!
“I trust that wisdom will prevail in the name of diplomacy to amicably end this crisis to the satisfaction of all.”
On the run … Walter Mzembi
All four ministers are key figures in the G40 Zanu PF faction which was thought to be pushing for First Lady Grace Mugabe to take over from her 93-year-old husband President Robert Mugabe.
The succession plot collapsed spectacularly this week with the military declaring a takeover of power, putting President Mugabe under house arrested and declaring that;
“We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice.
As soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”
The military insisted that the power grab was not a coup and continued to address Mugabe as President and Commander in Chief in a move seen as calculated to ward off international condemnation and possible intervention.
The pretence appeared to be working with the global reaction deploring the development but falling short of outright condemnation. Most countries urged calm and a peaceful resolution of the crisis.
And as Zimbabweans waited warily for the military to announce the new political dispensation in the country, regional diplomatic efforts went into motion.
South African President Jacob Zuma revealed that he had spoken to Mugabe who indicated that he was safe but confined to his Harare home.
The Pretoria government said it was dispatching two ministers to Harare for talks with the Zimbabwean leader and the military while the regional SADC grouping was due to hold an emergency meeting on the crisis in Botswana Thursday.