Harare (November 15, 2017): Zimbabwe’s ruling party has accused the army chief of “treasonable conduct” after he warned of a possible military intervention in politics on Tuesday
General Constantino Chiwenga had challenged President Robert Mugabe after he sacked the vice-president. He said the army was prepared to act to end purges within Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party.The party said the general’s comments were “calculated to disturb national peace… [and] incite insurrection”. In a statement, the party said it would never succumb to military threats, and that it “reaffirms the primacy of politics over the gun”.
Mugabe sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week, amid a row over succession. Mr Mnangagwa had previously been seen as an heir to the 93-year-old president, but First Lady Grace Mugabe is now the clear front-runner.In a written statement, the ZANU-PF also accused the head of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF), Constantino Chiwenga, of attempting to “incite insurrection and violent challenge to the Constitutional Order,” but warned that it would never succumb to military pressure.
The statement follows an exceedingly rare press conference Chiwenga gave on Monday, in which he read a statement threatening that the military would “step in” if the “shenanigans” by politicians in ZANU-PF continued.
Flanked by scores of senior commanders, Chiwenga didn’t name specific politicians. However, analysts say it was a clear rebuke of First Lady Grace Mugabe, at a time when the heavyweights of the 93-year-old President’s ruling party are being pitted against each other in an increasingly bitter succession battle.
“It is pertinent to restate that the ZDF remain the major stakeholder in respect to the gains of the liberation struggle. And when we are threatened we are obliged to take corrective measures,” Chiwenga said.The press conference, by the nation’s top military leader, received no coverage on State Media. Chiwenga appeared to be rallying behind former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was sacked by the President last week. The liberation stalwart and longtime right-hand man to Mugabe has gone into hiding; his whereabouts still unknown. Mnangagwa, 75, had been viewed as a likely successor to Mugabe, before the President fired him.
Many analysts believe that the move by the President, which gives Grace Mugabe a clearer path to the presidency, was a risky one.
And while Robert Mugabe and Grace Mugabe hadn’t responded directly to Chiwenga’s remarks, the Zanu-PF Youth League, a key ally of Grace Mugabe, slammed what they said was overreach by the military into political issues.