#Zimbabwe military continues purge of 'criminal elements'
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Johannesburg – The crisis in Zimbabwe continues with mounting tensions as the military extends its dragnet to “fish out” what it described as “criminal elements” from within President Mugabe’s government ruling Zanu PF party, Zimbabwe’s NewsDay reported on Friday morning.
The arrests continued as what appeared to be hours of fruitless negotiations between 93-year-old Mugabe and army generals, including Commander Constantino Chiwenga the mastermind behind the “coup”, took place on Thursday night.
The negotiations at State House were also attended by Southern African Development Community (SADC) envoys – South Africa Defence Minister Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and State Security Minister Bongani Bongo. It ended just before midnight.
As more prominent military figures were nabbed, Central Intelligence Organisation director Albert Miles Nguluvhe was released on Thursday.
A senior military official said Nguluvhe was free to go because he was not a member of Grace Mugabe’s G40 faction but added that the official reason for his arrest was to “alienate him” from the president.
The president’s wife Grace has disappeared with no confirmed reports of where she currently is.
Her G40 faction comprises prominent Zimbabweans including higher education minister Jonathan Moyo and his local government counterpart Saviour Kasukuwere.
Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, the president’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao (public service minister) and foreign affairs minister Walter Mzembi are other members of the G40 faction strongly opposing the sacking of former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa – which ignited the crisis.
Conflicting reports have emerged as to Mphoko’s whereabouts with some claiming he is under house arrest in Chinhoyi and others saying he has tried to flee the country.
The latter reports say he flew to Japan after attending Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.
Mzembi is also outside the country, while Zhuwao is reportedly holed up somewhere outside Zimbabwe.
Kasukuwere and Moyo were reportedly taken into custody from Mugabe’s private residence in Harare’s leafy Borrowdale area and then transported to the KGVI military barracks.
Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Paul Chimedza was reportedly nabbed in Bubi as he tried to sneak out of the country through the Beitbridge Border Post.
Other G40 leaders, including provincial chair people, youth and women’s league executives are also said to be targets of the widening dragnet.
Unconfirmed reports say that women’s league secretary for administration Letina Undenge might also have been picked up.
Zanu-PF youth league secretary Kudzanai Chipanga was arrested early on Wednesday.
He later apologised to Chiwengo on state television for insulting top military officials in a statement released by the youth league on Tuesday which also challenged the ZDF to take further action against G40 supporters.