The youth wing of Zimbabwe's Zanu-PF on Tuesday dared the country's military, saying they were ready to die “defending” President Robert Mugabe, amid reports of army tanks headed towards the capital city, Harare.
Zanu-PF youth league chairperson Kudzanayi Chipanga told journalists they were “a lion which has awakened and found its voice”, and would not “sit idly and fold our hands while cheap potshots and threats” were being made against Mugabe.
His comments come after Zimbabwean Defence Forces Commander Constantino Chiwenga told a news conference on Monday afternoon that Zimbabwe was suffering “distress, trepidation and despondence”.
Chiwenga said Mugabe’s Zanu-PF had been infiltrated by counter-revolutionaries who wanted to destroy it and that “drastic action” needed to be taken immediately.
Mugabe last week axed Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa from both the government and Zanu-PF, and also called for the expulsion of all suspected Mnangagwa allies, who go under the moniker Lacoste, a faction reportedly angling to succeed Mugabe.
On Tuesday, Chipanga said that the defending the "revolution" and their leader was an ideal they lived for and "if need be, it is a principle we are prepared to die for".
"We believe that the views [Chiwenga] exposed are his personal opinions and not the collective view of the security forces as a whole.
"It is no secret that the security forces in Zimbabwe know their parameters and, hence, the international respect they earned wherever they have played. We, therefore, address him directly and kindly,” Chipanga said on Tuesday.
He said they were taking a stand against Chiwenga, who was “bent on sowing division among [the] people” and “taking advantage of [his] appointment by our president to extort guarantees and immunity for fugitives, border jumpers from the same appointing authority”.
Earlier on Tuesday, after witnesses spotted army tanks headed towards Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare, it heightened fears of a possible military coup in the country.
It could not be established why the military was moving its tanks towards the capital, but the situation remained tense.
Zimbabwe – whose economy has halved in size since 2000 amid cash shortages and collapsing infrastructure and services – is witnessing increased polarisation within Zanu-PF over who will lead the party when 93-year-old Mugabe goes.