Zimbabwe’s military placed President Robert Mugabe in custody and took control of state-run media early Wednesday, saying it did so to root out the “criminals” in Mugabe’s government. Immigration services and travel disruptions should be expected until the political situation stabilizes.

Key points:

  • Services will be limited. Government offices will likely remain closed or operate on a limited basis in the coming days. Those in need of immigration services should expect delays. Consular services are also limited. The U.S. Embassy, for example, directed its staff to work from home and was closed to the public Wednesday.
  • Travel delays should be expected. The military was patrolling the capital, Harare, Wednesday and advised Zimbabweans to remain calm and “limit unnecessary movement.” Embassies urged foreign nationals to stay at home. Those who must travel should expect delays, especially in Harare.
  • Security remains precarious. The U.S. and British embassies urged people to be cautious. The U.S. Embassy said U.S. nationals should avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place and exercise caution when in the vicinity of any large gatherings or protests. The British Embassy urged British nationals to “remain safely at home or in their accommodation until the situation becomes clearer.”

Background: Mugabe has been president of Zimbabwe since 1987. The military’s intentions were not completely clear, but military officials released a statement saying they took the dramatic measures as a means to target “criminals around (Mugabe) who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering” in Zimbabwe. The statement said Mugabe and his family would remain safe. South African President Jacob Zuma said he spoke to Mugabe, who “indicated that he was confined to his home but said that he was fine.”

BAL Analysis: Immigration services and travel disruptions should be expected in Zimbabwe following Wednesday’s events. Companies may wish to account for the security of their employees. Foreign nationals in Zimbabwe are advised to follow security measures outlined by their country’s embassy. Those in need of urgent immigration services should contact BAL.

This alert has been provided by the BAL South Africa office. For additional information, please contact

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