A state of anxiety gripped Zimbabwe on Tuesday following an unusual movement of troops into the capital Harare.
The development followed a Monday demand by the army chief for a “stop” to the purge in the ruling Zanu-PF party, after the sacking of vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Four tanks were seen heading towards the Zimbabwe capital Harare on Tuesday, witnesses said, a day after the head of the armed forces said he was prepared to “step in” to end a purge of supporters of ousted vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
A Reuters witness saw two other tanks parked beside the main road from Harare to Chinhoyi, about 20 km (14 miles) from the city. One, which was pointed in the direction of the capital, had come off its tracks. Soldiers at the scene refused to talk to Reuters.
Mnangagwa, 75, a long-serving veteran of Zimbabwe’s 1970s liberation wars, had been viewed as a likely successor to Mugabe before the president fired him on November 6. His downfall appeared to pave the way for Mugabe’s wife Grace to succeed the 93-year-old president, the only leader Zimbabwe has known in 37 years of independence.
In an unprecedented step, the head of the armed forces, Constantino Chiwenga, openly threatened to intervene in politics on Monday if the purge of war veterans did not stop.