Zimbabwean Capital Remains Calm as Military Vehicles Are Seen

(Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwean armored military vehicles moved into the capital a day after armed forces commander Constantine Chiwenga called for an end to purges in President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party.

At least five armored vehicles were seen on roads in and around Harare, but the capital remained calm and there was no apparent deployment to the state broadcaster or other strategic locations. The military deployment on Tuesday followed Chiwenga’s criticism of what he described as a purge of veterans of the southern African nation’s independence war against the white-minority regime of Rhodesia.

He made his comments a week after Mugabe fired Chiwenga’s ally, Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, as vice president and expelled him from the ruling party. Mnangagwa’s ouster marked a dramatic shift in politics in Zimbabwe, where he had been a pillar of a military and security apparatus that helped Mugabe, 93, emerge as the nation’s leader after independence from the U.K. in 1980. He was Zimbabwe’s first national security minister.

Mugabe has broken with most of his comrades who fought in the liberation war against the white-minority regime of Rhodesia, leaving the so-called Generation-40 faction of younger members of the ruling party championed by his wife, Grace Mugabe, 52, in the ascendancy.

Mnangagwa’s firing came amid growing tensions before elections next year when it may face a seven-party opposition coalition that’s capitalizing on public anger over cash shortages, crumbling infrastructure and a collapse in government services. The economy has halved in size since 2000.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.