World News

Zimbabwe: Army chief accused of 'treasonable conduct'

Zimbabwe: Army chief accused of 'treasonable conduct'

Mnangagwa had always been tipped as Mugabe's most likely successor but has in recent months increasingly come into conflict with first lady Grace Mugabe, who is vying to replace the 93-year-old president.

While pledging allegiance to President Robert Mugabe as Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces, Constantino Chiwenga told a press conference that some counter-revolutionaries were bent on reversing the gains of the liberation struggle and making Zimbabwe a neo-colonial state.

The troop movements occurred one day after Zimbabwe's military warned Mugabe it would "step in" if he continued a purge within the ruling party that included firing Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mugabe has threatened to fire more than 100 officials linked to Emmerson Mnangagwa, the vice president he sacked last week and who enjoys the support of the influential War Veterans' Association.

In a statement, the party spokesman said Chiwenga's stance was "clearly calculated to disturb national peace... and suggests treasonable conduct on his part as this was meant to incite insurrection".

Several military tanks and trucks were spotted heading towards the Zimbabwean capital Harare Tuesday, prompting fears of a possible coup or show of power by the army.

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.

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Earlier this year the country was gripped by a weird spat between Grace and Mnangagwa that included an alleged ice-cream poisoning incident that laid bare the pair's rivalry.

Some of the army top brass are seen as strongly opposed to Grace Mugabe's apparent emergence as the likely next president.

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.

The ZANU-PF Youth League on Monday also criticized Chiwenga's statement and accused him of trying to subvert the country's constitution.

Mnangagwa took over as vice president from Joice Mujuru who was axed in 2014 after Grace Mugabe launched a campaign accusing her of plotting to topple the president.

"The current purging. targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith".

Analysts said if Mugabe responded to Chiwenga's statement, he would be compelled to choose sides between war veterans and the young turks rallying behind his wife.


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