Tensions rise in Zimbabwe as military tanks near the capital

Grace Mugabe

GETTY Grace Mugabe could follow in her husband footsteps to become leader of Zimbabwe

Eyewitnesses also said on Tuesday (Wednesday NZ time) that army tanks were seen about 20 kilometres west of the capital, Harare.

Yesterday the Zimbabwe army boss Constantine Chiwenga shook Mugabe allies and officials in the ruling Zanu-PF party when he said the military will not allow anyone who was not part of "us" to re-write the country's history.

His downfall appeared to pave the way for Mugabe's wife Grace to succeed the 93-year-old president, the only leader Zimbabwe has known in 37 years of independence.

On Monday, top army general Constantino Chiwenga warned Mugabe that the military will "step in" if the president continues to expel former liberation fighters from the ruling Zanu-PF party who are supporters of the sacked vice president.

President Robert Mugabe's wife Grace, linked to a faction called G40, was accused of having been instrumental in the axing of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week.

Several tanks have been seen heading towards the capital of Zimbabwe, less than a day after the head of the military said he could "step in" to end President Mugabe's "purge" of opponents.

"The current purging. targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith".

Historically President Mugabe is generally afraid, and interprets any show of defiance as risk of a possible coup and has in the past tightened his personal security over simple things like social media dissent, or strikes by workers.

But Mugave has been accusing the generals of taking sides in the succession race.

Mugabe is yet to respond to Chiwenga's coup threats.

She is now expected to be appointed vice-president at a special Zanu-PF congress next month.

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