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.
In an unprecedented warning, he said in a statement: “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.”
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.
Analysts had warned that the sacking would spark repercussions beyond Mugabe’s control.
Mnangagwa’s main rivals within the ruling ZANU-PF- party are the younger “Generation 40” or “G40” group, who enjoy Grace’s support.
But the 75-year-old former vice president has powerful military connections, having served as defence and state security minister.
Soon after his dismissal Mnangagwa quickly fled into exile, vowing to return and launched a direct challenge to Mugabe by calling for members of the ruling party to desert the president.
Mnangagwa — whose nickname is the “Crocodile” — defiantly told Mugabe that the party was “not personal property for you and your wife to do as you please”.
Mugabe then reacted by expelling his longtime confidant and former liberation war guerrilla, from the party.