Zimbabwe: Army chief accused of 'treasonable conduct'

Former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa

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

"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.

There has been a crackdown on freedom of expression in the southern African nation in recent months, with a U.S. woman arrested for allegedly calling President Robert Mugabe "a goblin" in a tweet.

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.

"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", said General Constantino Chiwenga in a statement.

Before his sack, Mnangagwa, aka Crocodile, defiantly told Mugabe that the party was "not personal property for you and your wife to do as you please".

But the 75-year-old former vice-president has powerful military connections, having served as defence and state security minister.

Robert Mugabe is the only leader Zimbabwe has known in 37 years of independence.

The party appears split over the succession with the G40 faction supporting Grace and another faction, that includes war veterans, rooting for the ousted Mnangagwa.

Chiwenga said if this happens, the military will interject and stop the process.

"What we are witnessing is the military saying: "We are willing to intervene if the red line is crossed".

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