Tensions rise in Zimbabwe as military tanks near the capital

Violet Powell
November 15, 2017

An increased troop presence in Zimbabwe's capital has triggered speculation about a potential military coup, a day after a warning from the top army general to President Robert Mugabe.

Mr Mnangagwa's downfall opens the way for his arch rival, Mr Mugabe's 52-year-old wife Grace, to take power when the ailing president dies, resigns or is ousted.

This photo taken November 8, 2017, shows Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, left, addressing party members and supporters to show support to Grace Mugabe, right, becoming the party's next vice president after the dismissal of Emerson Mnangagwa.

Following General Constantine Chiwenga's decision to challenge Mugabe's mistreatment of former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zanu PF has fired back at the army stating that the military boss is guilty of mishandling $15billion in diamond revenues.

Chiwenga, a political ally of Mnangagwa, added that the Zanu-PF had been hijacked by people who did not fight in the 1970s liberation war, which some commentators read as a criticism of Ms Mugabe, a vocal critic of the former vice president.

He said the army was prepared to act to end purges within Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

Tensions rose in Harare on Tuesday as armoured vehicles, military police and soldiers from Zimbabwe's powerful military drove through the outskirts of the capital.

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"Please continue with your lives and face up to your own problems", tweeted the country's ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF).

Mnangagwa, 75, was widely viewed as Mugabe's most loyal lieutenant, having worked alongside him for decades.

Historically President Mugabe is generally afraid, and interprets any show of defiance as risk of a possible coup and has in the past tightened his personal security over simple things like social media dissent, or strikes by workers.

"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", armed forces chief Constantino Chiwenga said on Monday.

President Robert Mugabe with his wife Grace Mugabe.

"The current purging which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith", Chiwenga said.

Chiwenga said if this happens, the military will interject and stop the process.

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