Why are there tensions in Zimbabwe


The youth wing of Zimbabwe’s ruling party has said it is “ready
to die” for President Robert Mugabe, following a threat by the
military to intervene if a purge of former war fighters

Kudzai Chipanga, leader of the ZANU-PF party’s Youth League,
said on Tuesday that they would not allow the army to choose
the country’s leaders amid rising tensions in the wake of
Mugabe’s firing of his vice president.

“We will not fold our hands to allow a creature of the
constitution to subvert the very constitution which establishes
it,” Chipanga told a press conference in the capital, Harare.

“Defending the revolution and our leader and president is an
ideal we live for and if need be it is a principle we are
prepared to die for,” he added.

‘The military will not hesitate to step in’

Chipanga’s statement came a day after army commander
Constantino Chiwenga said in a rare statement that the
targeting of senior ZANU-PF officials with a “liberation
background must stop forthwith.”

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, an ally of the army
chief and a veteran of the country’s struggle for independence,
was sacked last week by 93-year-old Mugabe for showing “traits
of disloyalty”.

Mnangagwa was seen as a likely successor to the ailing
president, and his ousting now appears to pave the way for
First Lady Grace Mugabe – who is backed by ZANU-PF’s Youth
League – to succeed her husband.

“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,”
Chipanga warned in his statement on Monday.

As the political crisis deepens, witnesses on Tuesday reported
seeing several tanks heading towards Harare, according to news
agencies’ reports.

Both President Mugabe and First Lady Grace Mugabe are yet to
publicly comment on the threats from the military, which has
backed Zimbabwe’s leader throughout his 37 years in office.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on Tuesday
called on people to defend the civilian rule in the country
following the army’s threat.

‘Leadership contest’

Lance Guma, a political analyst and broadcaster based in
Britain, said the threat from the military is the biggest
challenge Mugabe has faced during his nearly four decades in

“The army is flexing its muscles,” he told Al Jazeera.

“They are telling the civilian government that the army is the
real power in the country,” added Guma.

“But I don’t think there is an appetite for coup. The region
will not accept that.”

ZANU-PF has ruled the country since it gained independence from
Britain in 1980, and analysts claimed that that is not about to

“The dominance of ZANU-PF on the political landscape in
Zimbabwe is not in question,” George Shire, a political
analyst, told Al Jazeera.

“What you see is really a leadership contest taking place –
Zimbabwean style,” added Shire.

Zimbabwe’s armed forces have always maintained that they will
only back candidates to succeed Mugabe who fought in the
country’s independence war. Grace Mugabe, 52, is a not a war

ZANU-PF is expected to hold a conference in December.