Zimbabwe: New twist to Mugabe succession battle
Zimbabwe’s military has waded into the country’s political crisis, warning President Robert Mugabe that the army will be forced to step in if he fails to rein in “counter-revolutionary elements bent on destroying” the ruling ZANU PF from within.
Img : Zimbabwe: New twist to Mugabe succession battle
In a strongly worded statement issued on Monday night, Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantine Chiwenga said the military is concerned about on-goings in ZANU PF where a faction allegedly led by First Lady Grace Mugabe has been on a mission to kick out the old guard, particularly those with links to Zimbabwe’s 1970s liberation struggle.
“The current purging which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith,” said the defence forces chief who was flanked by the heads of the Zimbabwe National Army and the Air Force of Zimbabwe.
He was referring to the dismissal of former vice presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Joice Mujuru as well as other top ZANU PF officials since 2014 under trumped up charges of plotting to topple President Mugabe.
In a thinly veiled attack on the first lady, Chiwenga said the military would be forced to "step in" if Mugabe continues to allow “counter-revolutionaries” to destabilise the ruling party and Zimbabwe through reckless statements.
Grace Mugabe and Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo have during the past year accused the army of plotting a coup against Mugabe.
The two have at every opportunity denigrated Mnangagwa and eventually succeeded in hounding him out of government and ZANU PF last week.
“We strongly urge the party to stop reckless utterances by politicians from the ruling party denigrating the military which is causing alarm and despondence within the rank and file,” Chiwenga said.
He called for the expulsion of “the known counter-revolutionary elements who have fomented the current instability in the party.”
The military chief also called on Mugabe to allow an open leadership contest when ZANU PF goes for an extraordinary congress in Harare next month.
“As the party goes for the extraordinary congress, members must go with equal opportunity to exercise their democratic rights,” Chiwenga said.
This is seen as a move by the military to pave the way for Mnangagwa to return to ZANU PF and contest for the party’s presidency against Mugabe.
Currently, all other positions are up for contest at the forthcoming congress except the presidency.