Mugabe in trouble: 4 army tanks move towards capital

Robert Mugabe attends a university graduation ceremony in Harare

Witnesses in the city reported several lorries full of military personnel and at least six armoured vehicles on roads approaching the city in the late afternoon, though residents said there was no sign of troops in the centre of Harare, the airport, government broadcasters or the residence of president Robert Mugabe.

Mnangagwa had clashed repeatedly with First Lady Grace Mugabe, 52, who was widely seen as vying with him to succeed her 93-year-old husband as president.

Zimbabwe's Army Commander General Constantine Chiwenga is pictured during the country's 28 years Independence celebration in Harare on 18 April 2008.

Zimbabwe's ruling party described criticism of its conduct by armed forces commander Constantine Chiwenga as "treasonable" and meant to incite insurrection in the southern African nation, deepening the split between the military and 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.

He said the army was prepared to act to end purges within Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

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

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

Zimbabwe was plunged into crisis when Mr Mugabe sacked Mr Mnangagwa, a 75-year-old veteran of Zimbabwe's liberation wars, last week.

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

"We very rarely see tanks on the roads", Derek Matyszak, an analyst at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies, told AFP.

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

In response the party's Youth League accused the military chief of subverting the constitution.

Mnangagwa took over as vice president from Joice Mujuru who was axed in 2014 after Grace Mugabe launched a campaign accusing her of plotting to topple the president.

Chiwenga on Monday issued a hard hitting statement urging the ruling party to stop expulsion of party members with a liberation war background.

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

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

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