Harare in panic as tanks leave bar­racks

Business Daily (Kenya) - - FRONT PAGE - Kitsepile Ny­athi BD Cor­re­spon­dent, Harare

Zim­bab­weans were in panic yes­ter­day af­ter a flurry of pic­tures ap­peared on so­cial me­dia, ap­par­ently show­ing army tanks mov­ing towards the cap­i­tal Harare.

The pic­tures sur­faced a day af­ter the army com­man­der told Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe to stop purges of rul­ing party of­fi­cials liked to for­mer vice-pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa.

The troops, be­lieved to be from Inkomo Bar­racks on the out­skirts of Harare, were heav­ily armed.

Some pic­tures showed the tanks block­ing a ma­jor road lead­ing to the cap­i­tal, spark­ing fears of a mutiny.

Other tanks were parked by the road­side. There were no re­ports of vi­o­lence, but the sit­u­a­tion in the cap­i­tal was tense.

The move­ments by soldiers oc­curred hours af­ter ZanuPF youths told jour­nal­ists in Harare that they were ready to die for Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe fol­low­ing army com­man­der Con­stantino Chi­wenga’s un­prece­dented state­ment.

Gen­eral Chi­wenga, an ally of Mr Mnan­gagwa, said squab­bling over Pres­i­dent

Mu­gabe’s suc­ces­sion now posed a se­cu­rity threat and the army may be forced to in­ter­vene. Zanu-pf sec­re­tary for youths Kudzai Chipanga said they were ready to de­fend the age­ing leader against the army, fur­ther stok­ing fears of un­rest.

“We as the Zanu-pf youth league are a lion, which has awak­ened and found its voice,” he said. “There­fore, we will not sit idly and fold our hands whilst cheap pot shots and threats are made against the le­git­i­mate and pop­u­larly elected leader of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary party Zanu-pf and Zim­babwe.”

Mr Chipanga said soldiers should stop med­dling in Zanupf af­fairs. “All those in se­cu­rity sec­tor fa­tigues who wish to en­gage in pol­i­tics are free to throw their hats in the ring and not hide be­hind the bar­rel of the gun,” he added. “We wish to re­mind them that con­niv­ing and con­spir­ing to over­throw a con­sti­tu­tion­ally

...con­niv­ing and con­spir­ing to over­throw a con­sti­tu­tion­ally elected gov­ern­ment is a crime .... ”

elected gov­ern­ment is a crime in this coun­try and any­where in the world.”

De­fence min­is­ter Sid­ney Sek­ere­mayi was not avail­able for com­ment. The ma­jor­ity of Zim­babwe’s army com­man­ders are vet­er­ans of the coun­try’s lib­er­a­tion war and were heav­ily in­volved in the rul­ing party pol­i­tics. Mr Mu­gabe has in the past com­plained about the mil­i­tary’s med­dling in pol­i­tics and his wife,

KUDZAI CHIPANGA | ZANU PF SEC­RE­TARY FOR YOUTHS

Grace, re­cently claimed some com­man­ders were threat­en­ing a coup if Mr Mnan­gagwa was not al­lowed to suc­ceed her hus­band. The 93-year-old fired his deputy a week ago af­ter ac­cus­ing him of deceit and dis­loy­alty.

Mr Mnan­gagwa es­caped to South Africa, but is­sued a state­ment promis­ing to re­turn in the next few weeks to take over power.

TEN­SION Zim­babwe Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe. FILE

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