Africa

Zimbabwe media slow to cover military takeover

A man reads the front page of a special edition of The Herald newspaper about the crisis in Zimbabwe Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Zimbabwe's The Herald newspaper ran a special edition later on Wednesday

Zimbabwean media have been slow to keep their audiences up to date on developments after the military took control earlier today.

State TV and radios were re-broadcasting the statement by Major-General Sibusiso Moyo announcing that the military had taken over but offered little by way of updates to the situation.

For most of the morning the TV played patriotic songs from the independence period of the 1980s before resuming normal programming.

The lunchtime news featured the army takeover as the main story.

The print edition of the government-owned daily The Herald appeared on the streets on Wednesday morning with Tuesday's stories which downplayed the importance of the warning by the head of the armed forces Constantino Chiwenga that the military would take over if necessary.

The paper's online edition took a few hours to update, and has been carrying coverage of the unfolding events, under the headline Live and developing: No Military Takeover in Zim.

Apart from carrying the military statement the paper said: "The situation in Harare's central business district is calm with people going about their business."

Social media users have been trying to make up for the lack of news by posting their own observations and pictures of street scenes in the capital Harare, including some of troops and police being made to sit in a line outside parliament and people going about their daily lives.

The 'smoothest' coup

Many have dismissed suggestions by the military that their actions don't amount to a coup.

Image caption Maj Gen Sibusiso Moyo read out a statement on national TV early on Wednesday

Using the Twitter hashtag #ZimbabweCoup, many users welcomed the developments. The hashtag had been used more than 13,000 times in the 24 hours up until noon on Wednesday, many of the users appearing to be in the country.

One widely shared and liked tweet with a sarcastic overtone read: "The coup going on in Zimbabwe is the smoothest I've ever seen.. It started like we just wanna talk then went to it's cute you think you [sic] still president."

"When you see the army commanders take over the state broadcaster airwaves then that's the confirmation it's a COUP. End of an era," another tweet read. (bit.ly/2hyoy64)

However, another user provided a different interpretation: "It's a Zanu PF internal putsch backed by the army - very different from a military takeover - the statement issued is so very unique - you can feel the restraint." (bit.ly/2mt6oEl)

Mufti Ismail Menk of Zimbabwe tweeted: "#Zimbabwe is calm and life goes on for most ordinary citizens. Streets are safe and most children are in school."

Some users made fun of the fact that this morning's print editions were way out of date.

"News editors in Zim slept through the revolution. You need night shifts comrades," said @drDendere.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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