Military vehicles outside Zimbabwe capital as treason claims fly

Former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Zimbabwe's ruling party has accused the country's army chief of "treasonable conduct" after he warned of a possible military intervention in politics.

President Robert Mugabe's ruling party stripped Emmerson Mnangagwa of his vice president post.

President Robert Mugabe's famous "blue house" or "blue roof" has been sealed off by heavily armed military personnel, Khuluma Afrika has confirmed.

His main rivals within the ruling Zanu-PF party are the younger Generation 40 or G40 group, which has Grace Mugabe's support. Fears of some sort of revolt grew over the last few hours after several army tanks were spotted headed for the capital, and major arteries out of Harare were closed. The long-serving veteran of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war, had been viewed as a likely successor to Mugabe before the president fired him.

Neither the president nor his wife has responded to the general's remarks but a strong denunciation from the ruling party youth wing on Tuesday signalled that Grace Mugabe's supporters were prepared to defend her.

"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", said General Constantino Chiwenga in a statement.

"We very rarely see tanks on the roads", Derek Matyszak, an analyst at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies, told AFP.

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

"Please continue with your lives and face up to your own problems", tweeted the country's ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF).

"Chiwenga threw down the gauntlet to Mugabe.it would make sense for Chiwenga to organise some military manoeuvres to up the ante".

Mnangagwa took over as vice president from Joice Mujuru who was axed in 2014 after Grace Mugabe launched a campaign accusing her of plotting to topple the president.

"The current purging which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith", Gen. Constantino Chiwenga told a news conference attended by about 90 senior army officers.

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

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