Harare – Zimbabwe is reportedly "on the edge" after the country's army chief demanded a "stop" to the purge in President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF following the sacking of vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
General Constantino Chiwenga told a media conference attended by at least 90 senior army officers at the army headquarters in Harare on Monday that: "The current purging which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith."
According to New Zimbabwe.com, Chiwenga recently returned from a trip in China to find Mnangagwa fired from government and expelled from Zanu-PF.
The report said that the army had been seen to be backing Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe, 93, but the nonagenarian's wife Grace had emerged as a top contender.
Mnangagwa was kicked out of both government and the ruling party last week following accusations that he was plotting to topple Mugabe from power.
Chiwenga accused the party of expelling senior officials who participated in the 1970s war against white-minority ruled Rhodesia, saying "counter revolutionaries" were plotting to destroy the party.
"The current purging and cleansing process in Zanu-PF which so far is targeting mostly members associated with our liberation history is a serious cause for concern for us in the defense forces," said Chiwenga, at a press conference, reading from his statement.
"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. The current purging of which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith."
This was the first time Zimbabwe's military directly criticised the infighting in Zanu-PF and marked a rift between Mugabe and an institution that has been a key pillar of his power.