Zimbabwe’s military chief accused of ‘treasonable conduct’

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In a written statement, the ZANU-PF also accused the head of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF), Constantino Chiwenga, of attempting to “incite insurrection and violent challenge to the Constitutional Order,” but warned that it would never succumb to military pressure.

The statement follows an exceedingly rare press conference Chiwenga gave on Monday, in which he read a statement threatening that the military would “step in” if the “shenanigans” by politicians in ZANU-PF continued.

Flanked by scores of senior commanders, Chiwenga didn’t name specific politicians. However, analysts say it was a clear rebuke of First Lady Grace Mugabe, at a time when the heavyweights of the 93-year-old President’s ruling party are being pitted against each other in an increasingly bitter succession battle.

“It is pertinent to restate that the ZDF remain the major stakeholder in respect to the gains of the liberation struggle. And when we are threatened we are obliged to take corrective measures,” Chiwenga said.

The press conference, by the nation’s top military leader, received no coverage on State Media.

Chiwenga appeared to be rallying behind former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was sacked by the President last week. The liberation stalwart and longtime right-hand man to Mugabe has gone into hiding; his whereabouts still unknown. Mnangagwa, 75, had been viewed as a likely successor to Mugabe, before the President fired him.

Many analysts believe that the move by the President, which gives Grace Mugabe a clearer path to the presidency, was a risky one.

And while Robert Mugabe and Grace Mugabe hadn’t responded directly to Chiwenga’s remarks, the Zanu-PF Youth League, a key ally of Grace Mugabe, slammed what they said was overreach by the military into political issues.

“Defending the revolution and our leader and President is an ideal we live for, and, if need be, is a principle we are prepared to die for,” Kudzai Chipanga, Zanu-PF’s secretary of youth affairs, told reporters early Tuesday.

Photos and reports of armored personnel carrier sightings sweeping through social media on Tuesday capped off an extraordinary few days of political intrigue in the southern African nation.

Multiple sources inside and outside of the military told CNN that the vehicles’ movement was routine.

Hilary Clarke contributed to this report.