Rumors that Robert Mugabe may be dead have spread after the 93-year-old Zimbabwe leader went missing following the county’s army seized control of the country.
The Zimbabwe army reportedly took control of the nation’s capital, with gunshots and explosions heard in an area where government leaders live, the Express reported. While a statement from the military noted that Robert Mugabe is safe and under house arrest, there are growing rumors that the longtime leader may be dead.
Military leaders are insisting that the takeover is not a coup, which would call into question the legitimacy of the new government structure in place. Zimbabwe Major General Sibusiso Moyo told the nation that the military is simply trying to bring stability to Zimbabwe and avoid a larger conflict.
“What the Zimbabwe defense forces is doing is to pacify a degenerating political, social and economic situation in our country, which if not addressed may result in violent conflict,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
The African nation has been in turmoil for several weeks, with the ruling Zanu-PF party itself surrounded by uncertainty after Mugabe sacked vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa. That led to speculation that Mugabe was planning to turn power over to his wife, 52-year-old Grace Mugabe.
But that speculation has caused some unrest, CNN noted, as Grace Mugabe is unpopular among many high-ranking members of the party while Mnangagwa had support in the military.
With no word from Robert Mugabe himself, many have started to question whether the Zimbabwe leader is dead and that the military is keeping it under wraps. Many people took to social media looking for some update on Mugabe and questioning whether he was safe, as the military had indicated.
Is Mugabe dead?— Horcroix (@horqua) November 15, 2017
The report from the Express also noted the uncertainty of whether Robert Mugabe is dead or alive, with no clear answer yet coming from Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe 'coup' latest: Why has the military toppled Robert Mugabe? Is he still in power? Who is Emmerson Mnangagwa? https://t.co/vxFOIKiLTx— Evening Standard (@standardnews) November 15, 2017
There are some indications that Mugabe is being held by the military. According to CNN, South African President Jacob Zuma noted that Mugabe is unable to leave his home, with troops stations and the country’s parliament and at Mugabe’s presidential palace.
But until Robert Mugabe himself appears publicly, it seems that the rumors he may be dead will continue to spread.
[Featured Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]