Ten­sions be­tween Mu­gabe and army rise af­ter deputy sacked

Yorkshire Post - - ABROAD & UK -

ZIM­BABWE IS on edge af­ter ar­moured per­son­nel car­ri­ers were seen out­side the cap­i­tal a day af­ter the army com­man­der threat­ened to “step in” to calm po­lit­i­cal ten­sions.

Three ar­moured per­son­nel car­ri­ers with sev­eral sol­diers were seen in a con­voy on a road head­ing to­ward an army bar­racks just out­side the cap­i­tal Harare.

The tim­ing height­ened un­ease that there is an open rift be­tween the mil­i­tary and 93-year-old Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe as he ap­par­ently paves the way for his wife Grace to take over from him.

Mr Mu­gabe last week fired vice pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa and ac­cused him of plot­ting to take power, in­clud­ing through witch­craft.

Mr Mnan­gagwa, who en­joyed the back­ing of the mil­i­tary and was once seen as a po­ten­tial suc­ces­sor to Mu­gabe, fled the coun­try and said he and his fam­ily had been threat­ened.

More than 100 se­nior of­fi­cials al­legedly supporting him have been listed for dis­ci­plinary mea­sures by a fac­tion as­so­ci­ated with Grace Mu­gabe.

The first lady, whose po­lit­i­cal pro­file has risen in the past few years, now ap­pears po­si­tioned to re­place Mr Mnan­gagwa, lead­ing many in Zim­babwe to sus­pect that she could suc­ceed her husband as pres­i­dent.

On Mon­day, army com­man­der Con­stantino Chi­wenga is­sued an un­prece­dented state­ment say­ing purges against se­nior rul­ing ZANU-PF party of­fi­cials linked to the 1970s lib­er­a­tion war should end “forth­with”.

“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,” the army com­man­der said.

Last night, the rul­ing party is­sued a state­ment ac­cus­ing the army com­man­der of “trea­son­able con­duct”, say­ing his com­ments were “clearly cal­cu­lated to dis­turb na­tional peace and sta­bil­ity” and were “meant to in­cite in­sur­rec­tion”.

Mu­gabe in the past has warned mil­i­tary com­man­ders from in­ter­fer­ing in Zanu-PF suc­ces­sion pol­i­tics. Frus­tra­tion has been grow­ing as once-pros­per­ous Zim­babwe’s econ­omy has col­lapsed un­der Mu­gabe’s rule.

It was not clear whether the com­man­der still had his post.

Ac­cused for­mer vice pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa of plot to take power.

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