Tensions rise in Zimbabwe as military in outskirts of capital

Several armoured vehicles drove down main roads near the Zimbabwean capital Harare Tuesday, as tension erupted between President Robert Mugabe and the military that has been a key buttress to his 37-year reign.

Before being ousted, Mnangagwa had clashed repeatedly with Mugabe's wife Grace, 52, who is widely seen as vying with Mnangagwa to be the next president when Mugabe dies.

Zimbabwe's Army Commander General Constantine Chiwenga is pictured during the country's 28 years Independence celebration in Harare on 18 April 2008.

Zimbabwe's top military general on Monday called for an immediate end to purges against former liberation war fighters in President Robert Mugabe's ruling party, after Emmerson Mnangagwa was stripped of his vice president's post.

Chiwenga said ZANU-PF had been hijacked by people who did not fight in the 1970s liberation war, a clear shot at G40 wing and Grace Mugabe who is a vocal critic of Mnangagwa.

Historically President Mugabe is generally afraid, and interprets any show of defiance as risk of a possible coup and has in the past tightened his personal security over simple things like social media dissent, or strikes by workers.

A Reuters witness saw two other tanks parked beside the main road from Harare to Chinhoyi, about 20 km from the city.

More news: JC Penney Company Inc Stock Surges on Surprising Q3 Earnings

"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", he said in a statement.

"As a result of the squabbling, there has been no meaningful development in the country for the past five years".

"We will not fold out hands to allow a creature of the constitution to subvert the very constitution which establishes it", said Kudzai Chipanga, who leads the Zanu-PF Youth League, said at the party's headquarters in Harare.

"The current purging which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith", Chiwenga said.

Addressing a press conference in the capital, Chiwenga, a perceived Mnangagwa loyalist, said the purges must stop.

Chris Mutsvangwa, the head of the war veterans' group, told reporters in Johannesburg last week that Grace Mugabe was "a mad woman" who had won power through a "coup.by marriage certificate".

  • Adam Floyd