Purge by Mu­gabe runs risk of army coup

The Southland Times - - WORLD -

ZIM­BABWE: Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe has been warned by Zim­babwe’s gen­er­als that if he does not stop his purge of se­nior fig­ures in the rul­ing party, he risks a coup.

In an un­prece­dented re­buke that will deepen the coun­try’s grow­ing po­lit­i­cal cri­sis, Gen­eral Con­stan­tine Chi­wenga, head of the armed forces, yes­ter­day con­demned the ‘‘gos­sip­ing, back­bit­ing and pub­lic chas­tise­ment’’ that he said had split the rul­ing Zanu-PF party and could de­gen­er­ate into se­ri­ous con­flict, which the mil­i­tary could not tol­er­ate.

He lam­basted the sack­ing of se­nior party fig­ures – which last week in­cluded the vice-pres­i­dent, Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa, who has close ties to the mil­i­tary – and or­dered Mu­gabe and his wife Grace to stop their crit­i­cism of the armed forces.

‘‘The cur­rent purg­ing which is clearly tar­get­ing mem­bers of the party with a lib­er­a­tion back­ground must stop forth­with,’’ he told a press con­fer­ence at­tended by about 90 se­nior army of­fi­cers.

‘‘We must re­mind those be­hind the cur­rent treach­er­ous shenani­gans that when it comes to pro­tect­ing our rev­o­lu­tion, the mil­i­tary will not hes­i­tate to step in.’’

The state­ment dove­tails those made last week by Mnan­gagwa and Chris Mutsvangwa, head of the war vet­er­ans as­so­ci­a­tion. Both warned that Zanu-PF had been taken over by a ca­bal led by Grace Mu­gabe, which they said was ‘‘plun­der­ing the coun­try’’ and de­stroy­ing the party.

Un­til last week Mnan­gagwa had been a favourite to take over from Robert Mu­gabe, 93, when he dies or steps down. But he in­curred the ire of Grace Mu­gabe, who is thought to want to suc­ceed her hus­band. Af­ter his sack­ing, he fled the coun­try, say­ing he feared for his life, and was yes­ter­day said to be in China. – The Times

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