Army trucks in Harare spark panic; military insiders urge calm
A day after issuing a stern warning to President Robert Mugabe and the ruling Zanu-PF‚ Zimbabwean military forces have taken part in a training routine‚ sparking panic in the country’s capital.
Army trucks and tanks were spotted along Chinhoyi Road in Harare.
Images shared on social media have sent some Zimbabweans into panic mode‚ fearing that the army could spring a surprise in retaliation to a speech made by the Zanu-PF Youth League (YL) earlier today.
The YL hit out at the military‚ after the commander of the Zimbabwe National Army‚ General Constantine Chiwenga‚ criticised Zanu-PF over the sacking of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the purging of senior party members aligned to him.
The general’s stance is a direct attack on Mugabe‚ who told the army in no uncertain terms that it should not interfere in party politics‚ because “politics lead the gun”.
“Targeting people with a liberation background must stop forthwith‚” Chiwenga said at a media conference in Harare on Monday.
Chiwenga added that Zanu-PF has been hijacked by counter-revolutionaries‚ whose agenda is to destroy Zanu-PF from within.
“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‚” he said.
On Tuesday‚ the YL hit back‚ saying the military should not enter the political domain.
Within hours of these statements‚ army vehicles were seen patrolling Harare‚ causing alarm.
Military sources told TimesLIVE that the trucks are part of a training routine at Inkomo Barracks‚ one of the army's garrisons‚ and that these training exercises were always carried out on a Tuesday.
"We are used to these drills – [it’s] nothing surprising – but with the current situation‚ people have become alarmist‚" said a resident.
Other Harare residents are concerned that the situation could escalate.
"We want Zanu-PF out‚ but a coup is not the solution‚" said a street vendor. “We don't want a cursed nation – a lot has happened in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo‚ and we don't want that.”
Veteran MDC opposition politician David Coltart‚ on his Facebook wall‚ said Zimbabweans should guard against coup elements.
"At this time of national peril in #Zimbabwe‚ it is critical that all patriots demand that the constitution be scrupulously adhered to – for it is the only objective instrument which binds us and gives us a sure foundation for the future‚" he wrote.
Zimbabweans are eagerly waiting for Mugabe to respond to Chiwenga's statement.