Tensions rise in Zimbabwe as military tanks near the capital

Mr Mnangagwa's downfall opens the way for his arch rival, Mr Mugabe's 52-year-old wife Grace, to take power when the ailing president dies, resigns or is ousted.

Mugabe has threatened to fire more than 100 officials linked to Emmerson Mnangagwa, the vice president he sacked last week and who enjoys the support of the influential War Veterans' Association.

"The said statement by General Constantino Chiwenga which was not signed, and which did not represent the rest of the Command Element, suggests treasonous conduct on his part as this was meant to incite insurrection and violent challenge to the Constitutional Order", Moyo said.

The Zanu-PF party is "not personal property for you and your wife to do as you please", he said, according to The Guardian newspaper.

A number of people posted images of the military vehicles on social media.

Earlier, BBC correspondents in the capital, Harare, reported that a few armoured vehicles have been seen on a main public road outside the city having left one of the country's main military barracks, Inkomo. The long-serving veteran of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war, had been viewed as a likely successor to Mugabe before the president fired him.

eNCA's Zimbabwean correspondent Pindai Dube confirmed the tanks were visible in the streets of Harare, with sources indicating it was a "show of force" rather than a coup.

"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", armed forces chief Constantino Chiwenga said on Monday.

"As a result of the squabbling, there has been no meaningful development in the country for the past five years".

Chiwenga said ZANU-PF had since 2015 been rocked by infighting, which had afflicted the economy, causing serious cash shortages and soaring prices of basic commodities - rare criticism of those in government by the military.

"Chiwenga threw down the gauntlet to Mugabe.it would make sense for Chiwenga to organise some military manoeuvres to up the ante".

"The current purging which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith", Chiwenga said.

Grace, now poised to become a vice president, did not fight in the liberation war.

  • Rogelio Becker