13 November 2017
Zimbabwe’s army chief on Monday demanded an end to the purge in the ruling Zanu-PF party, and warned that the military could intervene.
Following the sacking of vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe armed forces commander, Constantine Chiwenga said the security services would stop those “bent on hijacking the revolution.”
General Chiwenga spoke at a Harare press conference on the “instability” in Zanu-PF, alongside some 90 senior military figures.
Mnangagwa was sacked last week by president Robert Mugabe, along with several other party members.
The former vice president was also expelled from Zanu PF, a party he served for more then 40 years, most of them at Mugabe’s side.
“It is with humility and a heavy heart that we come before you to pronounce the indisputable reality that there is instability in Zanu-PF today and as a result anxiety in the country at large,” General Chiwenga said.
“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 current purging which is clearly targeting members of the party with liberation [war] backgrounds must stop forthwith. There is distress, trepidation and despondency within the nation,” he said.
There were clashes in central Harare in August between the Zimbabwe Republic Police – loyal to first lady Grace Mugabe and her allies in a Zanu-PF faction, G40 – and soldiers who are loyal to Mnangagwa.
Later that month, Mnangagwa claimed he was poisoned at a rally addressed by Mugabe, and was airlifted by a military aircraft to South Africa where he spent nearly two weeks in hospital.
Mnangagwa, 75, left the country after being dismissed and arrived in Johannesburg last Wednesday.
Under orders from Mugabe, he is accused of organising the murder of thousands of opposition supporters since independence from the UK in 1980.
He issued a five page statement when he left Zimbabwe last week saying he would return and would lead resistance to Mugabe.
“We will soon control the levers of power in our beautiful party and country,” he said. Many veterans of the war against white-ruled Rhodesia have turned against Mugabe and the G40 faction.
Mugabe and her supporters, without providing any evidence, claim Mnangagwa planned to take power from Mugabe who is standing for re election next year.
Mrs Mugabe told a rally in Harare ten days ago that Mnangagwa had plotted against her husband since independence.
General Chiwenga’s contract as leader of the armed forces expired in July, and it is not clear whether Mugabe will keep him on in his job.
Last weekend, several members of the Zimbabwe National Army told reporters, in confidence, that they could not afford to object to Mnangagwa’s sacking as they “needed their jobs.”