Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF party accuses general of ‘treasonable conduct’ after army threatens to ‘step in’
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Zimbabwe’s ruling party has accused its top general of “treasonable conduct” after he threatened to “step in” to end a row over the sacking of the country’s vice president.
It comes amid rising tensions between the southern African nation’s military and the country’s ruling Zanu-PF party headed by President Robert Mugabe.
The country has been on edge as military vehicles and soldiers approached the capital, Harare, on Tuesday afternoon, with many people speculating that a coup was underway to remove Mr Mugabe from office.
On Monday, Commander Constantino Chiwenga said: “We must remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that when it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in.”
General Chiwenga’s unprecedented comments were “clearly calculated to disturb national peace and stability” and were “meant to incite insurrection” the party said in statement.
He had previously spoken out against Mr Mugabe’s decision to sack his vice president Emerson Mnangagwa, 75, last week.
Mr Mnangagwa, a veteran of the country’s 1970s liberation war, was a popular figure in the military and had been regarded as a likely successor to Mr Mugabe, who at 93-years-old is the world’s oldest head of state.
General Chiwenga’s removal is seen as part of a purge of old independence-era figures and appeared to pave the way for Mr Mugabe’s wife Grace to succeed her husband.
Mr Mugabe chaired a weekly cabinet meeting in the capital on Tuesday. Afterwards, the ruling party, ZANU-PF, said it stood by the “primacy of politics over the gun” and accused General Chiwenga of trying to disturb the country’s peace and stability.
The schism between Mr Mugabe and the military marks a major change in power in Zimbabwe, where the armed forces have played a central role alongside the Zanu-PF party’s administration.
According to the Associated Press, More than 100 senior officials who allegedly supported vice president Emerson Mnangagwa have been listed for disciplinary measures by a faction associated with Mugabe’s wife.
Frustration has been growing in once-prosperous Zimbabwe as the economy collapses under Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state.
The country was shaken last year by the biggest anti-government protests in a decade, and Mugabe’s appointment of a minister for cybersecurity last month was criticised by activists as a crackdown on social media users. Reuters and Press Association contributed to this report