Zimbabwe armed forces commander Constantine Chiwenga called for an end to purges in President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party and said the security services would stop those “bent on hijacking the revolution,” signaling a split with the 93-year-old leader.
Chiwenga, speaking alongside the commanders of the army and air force, was commenting on the upheaval in the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front following Mugabe’s dismissal of Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, as vice president a week ago and his subsequent expulsion from the ruling party. Mnangagwa, an ally of Chiwenga, fled the southern African nation on Dec. 8 because of “incessant threats” against him and his family.
“It is with humility and a heavy heart that we come before you to pronounce the indisputable reality that there is instability in Zanu-PF today and as a result anxiety in the country at large,” Chiwenga, 61, told reporters at the King George IV military barracks in the capital, Harare.
“This is a new and potentially dangerous twist to the politics of the country,” Eldred Masunungure, a professor of political science at the University of Zimbabwe, said by phone. “It’s the toxic insertion of the military and will sour relations between the military and government.”
Mugabe has broken with most of his comrades who fought in the liberation war against the white-minority regime of Rhodesia, leaving the so-called Generation-40 faction of younger members of the ruling party championed by his wife, Grace Mugabe, 52, in the ascendancy.