Tensions rise in Zimbabwe as military tanks near the capital

15 November, 2017, 00:25 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • Former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa

On Monday, top army general Constantino Chiwenga warned Mugabe that the military will "step in" if the president continues to expel former liberation fighters from the ruling Zanu-PF party who are supporters of the sacked vice president. The army's spokesman was not available to comment.

The party's ten provinces, the Women's League and the Youth League have endorsed First Lady Grace Mugabe to be the party's female vice president and to replace Mnangagwa.

Mugabe is the world's oldest head of state, but his frail health has fuelled a bitter succession battle as potential replacements jockey for position.

The ruling party will next month hold an extra ordinary congress to reaffirm Mugabe's candidature in next year's presidential elections and also amend the party constitution to allow for a female vice president.

Pictures of tanks heading towards the capital circulated on social media Tuesday prompting rumors that a coup could be imminent.

Chiwenga said if this happens, the military will interject and stop the process.

His lengthy rule has been marked by brutal repression of dissent, mass emigration, vote-rigging and economic collapse since land reforms in 2000.

Chiwenga's statements on Monday that the military wouldn't permit "hijacking of the revolution" were "clearly calculated to disturb national peace and stability", Information Minister Simon Khaya Moyo, who's also the secretary for information for the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, said Tuesday in a statement.

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Speculation has been rife in Harare that Mugabe could seek to remove Chiwenga, who is seen as an ally of ousted Mnangagwa.

An official said, however, that Mugabe was going about his business as usual.

His main rivals within the ruling Zanu-PF party are the younger Generation 40 or G40 group, which has Grace Mugabe's support.

"His authority over the military has never been tested in this way".

Mugabe, 93, one of the longest ruling leaders in the world, came to power in 1980 during the country's war of liberation against white-run former British colony Rhodesia.

He fled the country and is thought to be in South Africa after issuing a searing five-page condemnation of Grace's ambition and Mugabe's leadership.

President Robert Mugabe with his wife Grace Mugabe.

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