According to South African Publication, City Press, the military takeover by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces had been planned weeks in advance and was supposed to have been executed in December before the Zanu-PF Extra-Ordinary Congress. However, the timetable had to be accelerated after former Vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa was fired from government and Zanu-PF. The attempted arrests of Mnangagwa and Commander Defence Forces General Constantino Chiwenga also escalated the matter.
According to City Press, several governments in the SADC region, the United States and China were aware of the plan and were not opposed to it. However, the governments are reported to have insisted that the military takeover should not be characterised as a coup and that there should be no bloodshed. It is reported that the planners of the military takeover “received assurances that there would be no military intervention” from the region.
The United States is reported to have been made aware but it chose not to play any role while the Chinese are reported to have been delighted as long as their interests were protected.
The sources who spoke to City Press said:
The Chinese were keen on knowing who would take over. When [the diplomat] informed them that it was Mnangagwa, they were thrilled as he is an old friend of China. He did his military training there.
I can confirm that at this stage, the United States was informed, but played no role in the plan.