No evidence of Chinese influence on Zimbabwean 'coup' - expert

The senior consultant on Southern Africa for Crisis Group, Piers Pigou says there is no evidence of China's alleged involvement in a military take over in Zimbabwe.

There has been speculation that Zimbabwe's General Constantine Chiwenga may have sought China's approval before initiating a 'military coup' in Harare.

The general is said to have held high-level meetings with officials from the Defence Ministry and visited a school to observe a Shaolin Kung Fu class last week.

China's ministry has however denied and has told reporters that the defence ministry had handled arrangements for a “routine visit”.

Pigou explains that China has some interests in Zimbabwe but there is no basis for the assumption.

There is no evidence of any external involvement in the current situation. General Chiwenga had been on a scheduled visit in China when Emmerson Mnangagwa was fired. So when the fall out was happening he was there. There is an assumption that he did the rounds, consulted with the Chinese who then gave him the green light to go ahead with this.

Piers Pigou, senior consultant on Southern Africa for Crisis Group

He says while the international community has been cautious in their response, events that have unfolded in the country have all the hallmarks of a coup.

Speaking on Emmerson Mnangagwa's role n Zimbabwe's current political climate and whether he is Zimbabwe's saving grace, Pigou says they have yet to see evidence of this.

He says Mnangagwa has been held out by some people as the most pragmatic option for reform within the construct of the Zanu PF.

I think there is significant speculation about the prospects for some kind of inclusive government that would include elements from the opposition, those who have recently been kicked out of the Zanu PF like Joyce Majuru, perhaps some kind of government of national unity.

Piers Pigou, senior consultant on Southern Africa for Crisis Group

There is the backdrop of where he has come from and his own complicity in past violations which I don't think can be airbrushed out of the equation but we have to look at what are the raw materials on the table and what is going to be the best combination of those materials to try and drive some kind of sustainable solution to what is a deeply depressing and disturbing economic and social situation.

Piers Pigou, senior consultant on Southern Africa for Crisis Group

Meanwhile the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is set to meet in Botswana and hold talks about the situation.

Foreign Correspondent Peter Fabricius unpacks the role of of the SADC and its intervention.

I don't think there is a real procedural issue, but I think there is an issue in how do you manage an extremely difficult situation.

Peter Fabricius, Foreign correspondent

My view is that they can't simply go in there and say that the rules say that there shall be no coup, therefore you must hand over power to Mugabe and we will take it from there. They are going to have to navigate their way back to constitutionality and so delicately.

Peter Fabricius, Foreign correspondent

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