National Press Club

African Union Commission chairperson says no coup in Zimbabwe

November 15, 2017 | By Justin Duckham |

Moussa Faki, African Union Commission chairperson, takes questions from NPC President Jeff Ballou.

Moussa Faki, African Union Commission chairperson, takes questions from NPC President Jeff Ballou.

Photo/Image: Ferdous Al-Faruque

Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the African Union Commission, told a Club Headliners Luncheon Wednesday that the unfolding unrest in Zimbabwe was not a coup.

“The military have reassured us that this is not a coup d’etat,” Mahamat said through a translator. He said a delegation sent to the country provided the information.

According to Mahamat, President Robert Mugabe and his family are safe in the country, a key factor in making that determination.

On Wednesday, Zimbabwe’s military announced over state broadcasting that they had seized power but were not aiming for the 94 year-old Mugabe directly.

“We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country,” Major General SB Moyo said in a televised statement believed to be referencing Mugabe’s wife Grace, believed to be his successor.

Mahamat said the African Union is opposed to unconstitutional changes in government.

“Anybody coming into power by force is, of course, condemned by the African Union, so we cannot accept any overthrow,” Mahamat said. “We all hope there will be no bloodshed and everything will be resolved peacefully.”

Mahamat, who said that he left for Washington as the situation in Zimbabwe developed, said he has not yet spoken to Mugabe.

During his remarks, Mahamat also touched upon the African Union Commission’s role in combatting terrorism in Somalia, saying that the situation is difficult, but credited the group's mission to Somalia , along with the U.S. and European Union, with containing the Al-Shabaab terrorist group and establishing elections.

“Al-Shabaab has been weakened, has been degraded, but still retains the capacity to do harm and to cause havoc,” Mahamat said.,

Mahamat is in Washington as part of a three-day visit, his first trip to the nation’s capital.

Editor's note: The first line in this story has been changed to reflect that the speaker said that he did not think the recent events in Zimbabwe represent a coup. A previous version of the story omitted a word in the first line due to an editing error.