Zimbabwe’s army chief on Monday demanded a “stop” to the purge in the ruling ZANU-PF party after the sacking of vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, and warned the military could intervene.
“The current purging which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith,” General Constantino Chiwenga told a media conference attended by about 90 senior army officers at army HQ.
“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,” he warned in a statement.
Mnangagwa was dismissed and humiliated a week earlier after clashing with veteran President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace, who is now in prime position to succeed her 93-year-old husband.
The former vice president has powerful military connections, having served as defence and state security minister.
Chiwenga charged the ruling ZANU-PF party had been infiltrated by people who are seeking to destroy it from within.
The purging had plunged the country into a crisis, he said.
Chiwenga, making a rare statement by the country’s military, called on the ruling party officials to “stop reckless utterance… denigrating the military, which is causing alarm and despondency within the rank and file”.
The army boss said the infighting in the party had trickled down and impacted negatively on the country which is reeling under an economic crisis.
“There is distress, trepidation and despondence within the nation,” he said.
“As a result of the squabbling, there has been no meaningful development in the country for the past five years,” he said.
The crisis had resulted in “cash shortages and rising commodity prices,” he said.