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Zimbabwe: Ruling party denounces military chief November 14 /update 1

Ruling ZANU-PF party criticizes military chief's remarks as treasonous on November 14; calm reported in Harare as of Tuesday night, no major military presence

TIMEFRAME expected from 11/14/2017, 12:00 AM until 11/15/2017, 11:59 PM (Africa/Harare). COUNTRY/REGION Zimbabwe

Event

In a press statement issued on Tuesday, November 14, the ruling ZANU-PF party criticized military chief General Constantino Chiwenga for making remarks that were "calculated to disturb national peace and stability." The statement also said that Chiwenga's remarks "suggested treasonable conduct on his part," and emphasized that the ZANU-PF government would not succumb to challenges or threats from the  military.  In a separate statement, the ZANU-PF Youth League also criticized Chiewenga and stated that its members were ready to die to protect President Robert Mugabe.

Despite earlier reports of military mobilization and rumors of a potential coup, there are reportedly no signs of a major military presence in Harare as of Tuesday night, and life in the capital continues largely as normal. The exact nature of the reported military activity around Harare on Tuesday remains unknown, although observers remain alert to potential unrest given the high political tensions still prevailing in Zimbabwe. However, military vehicles are known to regularly use some of the routes on which armored vehicles were seen on Tuesday, leading some to dismiss the rumors of a brewing political overthrow.

Context

On Tuesday, soldiers and armored vehicles were reportedly deployed in Harare and on major roads into the city. The reports came at a time of increased tension between President Mugabe and the Zimbabwe military. On November 6, a political crisis began when President Mugabe fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa for allegedly plotting against the government. Mnangagwa was also expelled from the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party. The firing of Mnangagwa created tension between President Mugabe and other high ranking ZANU-PF members. On Monday, November 13, General Chiwenga, a ZANU-PF member, criticized the purge of high-ranking ZANU-PF members who had fought in the country's war for independence in the 1960s and 1970s.

Mugabe came to power after Zimbabwe's independence in 1980 and, although now 93, has yet to name a successor. Despite serious health concerns, ZANU-PF again endorsed him as its candidate for the 2018 election. However, the party has become divided over who will eventually succeed him, leading to rising political tensions.

Advice

Individuals in Zimbabwe, particularly in Harare, are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all public gatherings, and adhere to any instructions issued by local authorities. Be prepared to shelter in place in the event of a sudden deterioration in the local security situation (stock up on food, water, and other necessities).

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