Zimbabwe army chief urges ruling party to stop firing ousted VP's supporters

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Zimbabwe Defense Forces commander Constantine Chiwenga issued a written statement, days after Mugabe fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was widely backed by the army and was once viewed as a potential successor to the president.

"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".

Mr Mnangagwa was sacked last week by president Robert Mugabe, along with several other party members.

General Chiwenga spoke at a Harare press conference on the "instability" in Zanu-PF, alongside some 90 senior military figures.

"The current purging of which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith". 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. But the ageing leader has been accusing the generals of taking sides in the succession race.

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He said the ZANU-PF had been undermined by "gossiping, backbiting and public chastisement" since 2015, and added, "Indeed, the party is undoing its legacy built over the years".

Mr Mnangagwa previously served as defence and state security minister.

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.

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

Mnangagwa is now in self-imposed exile.

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The crisis had resulted in "cash shortages and rising commodity prices", he said.

KGIV is the most fortified and biggest military barracks in the country and, save for the absence of generals from the Central Intelligence Organisation, Police and Correctional Services, Chiwenga had his ducks in a row and literally threw the gauntlet at Mugabe from the comfort of his citadel of power. He has to declare his allegiance.

"What we are witnessing is the military saying: "We are willing to intervene if the red line is crossed".

The war veterans invited all cadres expelled from the ruling Zanu PF to come and chart the way forward.

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