Zimbabwe army ready 'to step in' to end ZANU-PF purge


Zimbabwe's army chief has warned those responsible for "purging" the country's ruling Zanu-PF party to stop, or the military will step in.

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

Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander Constantino Chiwenga told a press conference Monday afternoon, which was attended by the military generals and elite, that "it is common cause that any instability within the [Zanu PF] party naturally impacts on [Zimbabweans'] social, political and economic lives", adding that accordingly, there was "distress, trepidation and despondence within the nation".

The rare intervention comes just a week after President Robert Mugabe sacked his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa.

"It had become evident that his conduct in his discharge of his duties had become inconsistent with his official responsibilities".

It had also cleared the way for Mugabe's wife, Grace, to succeed her husband. "The vice president has consistently and persistently exhibited the traits of disloyalty, disrespect, deceitfulness and unreliability".

Gen. Chiwenga said Zimbabwe's history is hinged on the ideals of the revolution dating back to the First Chimurenga where thousands of people perished.

- "Democratic rights" - ZANU-PF is due to hold a congress next month, when 52-year-old Grace, a hugely divisive figure, could be appointed as one of the country's two vice presidents.

The speech came a day after Mugabe publicly criticised Mnangagwa for the first time during a speech at a rally on November 4.

Speaking at the army's headquarters, General Chiwenga said the removal of people who were involved in the independence struggle, like Mr Mnangagwa, would not be tolerated. 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.

Relations soured between Zimbabwe's leader and his former vice president soured in August after hints by Mnangagwa's allies that he had been poisoned by ice cream from a dairy owned by the Mugabes.