The Zimbabwe Defense Forces have taken over control of the country, taking President Robert Mugabe into custody, and making explanatory statements over seized television facilities.

By Wednesday morning ZDF uniforms were ubiquitous on the streets of the capital city.

The military says that its takeover of Zimbabwe is not a takeover. This Orwellian sounding assertion seems to mean that the military is selective in its targeting, looking only for the “criminals” close to Mugabe to “bring them to justice,” and perhaps that the military wants to go back to its barracks as soon as this job is done.

Reuters reported on Wednesday November 15 that the President of neighboring South Africa, Jacob Zuma, had spoken to Mugabe by telephone. Mugabe relayed to Zuma that he is unharmed, though confined to his home.

Though there are a lot of reasons for Zimbabweans, in or out of uniform, to be discontented with the Mugabe government, the catalyst for this take-over was a dispute between Mugabe and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwe. Last week, Mugabe accused Mnangagwe of plotting against the government and Mnangagwe (who has connections in the armed forces and intelligence services) fled to South Africa for safety. Mugabe rebuked Mnangagwe for “disloyalty, disrespect and deceitfulness.”

That move cast further light on the issue of succession. Mugabe is 93 years old, and simple biology suggests his regime is of limited duration. Who will take over after Mugabe? Mugabe has refused to allow for clarity on that subject.

View from the Right

Breitbart News senior editor-at-large, Joel B. Pollak, wrote that outlet’s first reaction Tuesday evening to the reports from Zimbabwe. It was mostly a round-up of what “numerous international media” were saying up to that point.

One conservative author, Josh Caplan (who blogs as the Gateway Pundit) tweeted a link to Major General Sibusiso Moyo’s televised statement on why the takeover wasn’t really a takeover, immediately, without comment.

In response to Kaplan’s link, Reagan Conservative added his/her two cents, saying that Mugabe “has been a Black supremacist criminal thug dictator for 30 years. Bc of Mugabe, Zimbabwe exemplifies everything wrong with Africa….”

The general conservative point of view on the coup so far seems to be: time will tell. Remain calm and carry on while the situation sorts itself out. That is explicitly the message of a statement from the Foreign Secretary of the Conservative government of Great Britain.

Boris Johnson told the House of Commons that “we cannot tell how developments in Zimbabwe will play out in the days ahead – and we do not know if this marks the downfall of Mugabe or not. We call for calm and restraint.”

View from the Left

Left of center political commentators on social media and elsewhere tend not to share the visceral reaction to Mugabe that Kaplan’s tweet evoked from “Reagan Conservative.” Indeed, they will sometimes attribute that reaction to colonial attitudes.

Still, the early reaction from the left is for the most part a concession that something had to give. Zeeshan Aleem, writing in Vox, says thatthe fact that leaders of Zimbabwe’s armed forces decided to take action to push back against Mugabe isn’t a huge surprise.”

Aleem concluded his story thus:  “The situation in Harare doesn’t appear to be chaotic at the moment … early Wednesday, taxis were running, people were making their way to work, and soldiers on the streets didn’t appear to be interfering with people’s commutes.”

A twitter denizen who calls himself a “revolutionary activist for radical change” hails the takeover as a promising development. Writes Julius Selio Malema, “Someone had to do something, the army should make sure there is no loss of life however anyone seeking to undermine this transition should be dealt with decisively. Finally free and stable Zimbabwe is coming in our lifetime.”

That tweet drew the following comment: “Historically military intervention never ends well. But every situation is unique.”