Zimbabwe army chief urges ruling party to stop firing ousted VP's supporters

Former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa

The Zimbabwean military has fired warning shots on Monday, giving the ruling Zanu PF an ultimatum to stop the current purges of all party cadres with a military background. Mnangagwa, an ally of Chiwenga, fled the southern African nation on November 8 because of "incessant threats" against him and his family.

"The current purging which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith", General Constantino Chiwenga told a media conference attended by about 90 senior army officers at army headquarters.

Mnangagwa was sacked from both government and the party last week, and is now holed up in South Africa.

"We must remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that when it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in".

"It had become evident that his conduct in his discharge of his duties had become inconsistent with his official responsibilities".

Mnangagwa was dismissed and humiliated a week earlier after clashing with veteran President Robert Mugabe's wife Grace, who is now in prime position to succeed her 93-year-old husband.

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Explaining the reasons for Mnangagwa's dismissal, information minister Simon Khaya Moyo said: "The vice president has consistently and persistently exhibited traits of disloyalty, disrespect, deceitfulness and unreliability".

The ruling party will next month hold an extra ordinary congress to reaffirm Mugabe's candidature in next year's presidential elections and also amend the party constitution to allow for a female vice president.

This comes after the G40 faction, reportedly rooting for First Lady Grace Mugabe, has promised to purge all allies believed to be supporting the Lacoste faction, which is said to be sympathetic to sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Speaking at the army's headquarters, General Chiwenga said the removal of people who were involved in the independence struggle, like Mr Mnangagwa, would not be tolerated.

The arrest of the four ZANU-PF activists came as the Zimbabwe high court Thursday granted bail to Martha O'Donovan, a 25-year-old American journalist charged with charged with insulting Mugabe and attempting to subvert the regime on account of an alleged tweet that described the ageing leader as "selfish and sick".

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