Zimbabwe's army chief accused of 'treasonable conduct'

The wife of Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe Grace Mugabe

Several armoured vehicles drove down main roads near the Zimbabwean capital Harare Tuesday, as tension erupted between President Robert Mugabe and the military that has been a key buttress to his 37-year reign.

Last week, he sacked Mnangagwa, a former defense minister with strong ties to the military, replacing him with Mugabe's wife Grace, 52.

In his statement Monday the army commander Constantine Chiwenga, gave Mugabe an ultimatum calling for a "stop to reckless utterances by politicians from the ruling party".

Gen Constantino Chiwenga, Zimbabwe's army chief, has warned President Robert Mugabe and ruling Zanu-PF party after the sacking of vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, The Guardian reports.

ZANU-PF said Chiwenga's stance was "clearly calculated to disturb national peace. and suggests treasonable conduct on his part as this was meant to incite insurrection".

Chiwenga's statement, read out at a news conference packed with army top brass, comes at a time of a deepening rift within ZANU-PF over who will eventually lead the party after the 93-year-old Mugabe goes.

"May I remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that when it comes to matters of protecting the revolution the military will not hesitate to step in", he said.

Earlier this year the country was gripped by a weird spat between Grace and Mnangagwa that included an alleged ice-cream poisoning incident that laid bare the pair's rivalry.

He quoted the constitution to justify the military's interest in what was happening in the ruling party, saying that the military provided government with various forms of assistance as provided for by the supreme law.

Addressing a press conference in the capital, Chiwenga, a perceived Mnangagwa loyalist, said the purges must stop.

Among other security threats emanating from the goings-on Zanu-PF were "reckless utterances" by some politicians denigrating the military, which he said were causing despondency among its members, he said.

Historically President Mugabe is generally afraid, and interprets any show of defiance as risk of a possible coup and has in the past tightened his personal security over simple things like social media dissent, or strikes by workers.

Grace, now poised to become a vice president, did not fight in the liberation war.

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