Possible military coup in Zimbabwe, as tanks roll towards Robert Mugabe's capital

The wife of Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe Grace Mugabe

Chiwenga's statement, read out at a news conference packed with army top brass, comes at a time of a deepening rift within ZANU-PF over who will eventually lead the party after the 93-year-old Mugabe goes.

Several armoured vehicles drove down main roads near the Zimbabwean capital Harare Tuesday, as tension erupted between President Robert Mugabe and the military that has been a key buttress to his 37-year reign.

A second column of around a dozen vehicles was reported moving down the same road several hours later.

Mugabe has threatened to fire more than 100 officials linked to Emmerson Mnangagwa, the vice president he sacked last week and who enjoys the support of the influential War Veterans' Association.

Chiwenga said ZANU-PF had been hijacked by people who did not fight in the 1970s liberation war, a clear shot at G40 wing and Grace Mugabe who is a vocal critic of Mnangagwa.

The ruling party will next month hold an extra ordinary congress to reaffirm Mugabe's candidature in next year's presidential elections and also amend the party constitution to allow for a female vice president.

He quoted the constitution to justify the military's interest in what was happening in the ruling party, saying that the military provided government with various forms of assistance as provided for by the supreme law.

"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 failure of the president to make any statement since the crisis broke suggests he "is not in full control", said Piers Pigou, an expert on Zimbabwe with the International Crisis Group, who is based in neighbouring South Africa.

Pictures of tanks heading towards the capital circulated on social media Tuesday prompting rumors that a coup could be imminent.

Following General Constantine Chiwenga's decision to challenge Mugabe's mistreatment of former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zanu PF has fired back at the army stating that the military boss is guilty of mishandling $15billion in diamond revenues.

Grace Mugabe - 41 years younger than her husband - has become increasingly active in public life in what many say is a process to help her eventually take the top job.

The former junior administrator is detested by numerous independence-era war veterans, who once enjoyed a privileged role in the ruling party under Mugabe, but who have increasingly been banished from senior government and party roles in recent years.

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