Mugabe in trouble as Zimbabwean army chief threatens to take over

Grace Mugabe talks to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa at a gathering of the ZANU-PF Politburo in 2016
Credit PHILIMON BULAWAYO  Reuters

Grace Mugabe talks to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa at a gathering of the ZANU-PF Politburo in 2016 Credit PHILIMON BULAWAYO Reuters

Mnangagwa was sacked from both government and the party last week, and is now holed up in South Africa.

But the 75-year-old former vice president has powerful military connections, having served as defence and state security minister.

This comes after the G40 faction, reportedly rooting for First Lady Grace Mugabe, has promised to purge all allies believed to be supporting the Lacoste faction, which is said to be sympathetic to sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mugabe, 93, was "now virtually unable to walk without assistance, always needing the support of his wife, Grace, and the phalanx of bodyguards he travels with", the report said.

Grace Mugabe could be appointed as one of the country's two vice presidents at the party congress next month.

Mugabe, the world's oldest president, is showing increasing signs of old age, but has refused to name his successor.

In 2008, after the first round of elections in which the Movement for Democratic Change, an opposition party led by Morgan Tsvangirai, won at the polls, the military warned that it would not allow leaders without liberation-war credentials to take power, and 200 people died in a state-sponsored crackdown on the opposition.

"Known counter-revolutionaries. must be exposed and fished out", he said.

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"This is a new and potentially unsafe twist to the politics of the country", Eldred Masunungure, a professor of political science at the University of Zimbabwe, said by phone.

Chiwenga called on the ruling party officials to "stop reckless utterance. denigrating the military, which is causing alarm and despondency within the rank and file".

OVER 30 generals from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces packed the fortified KGIV army barracks in Harare as their boss issued a rare rebuke to President Robert Mugabe, leaving the country on the cusp of a coup.

Chiwenga said "instability" in the ruling party had caused "distress, trepidation and despondence".

"As a result of the squabbling, there has been no meaningful development in the country for the past five years".

The crisis, he concluded, meant Zimbabwe was struggling with "cash shortages and rising commodity prices".

But it started running out of those dollars and previous year it introduced "bond notes", a parallel currency pegged to the U.S. dollar.

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