Military tanks were heading towards Zimbabwe’s capital Harare on Tuesday, 24 hours after army chief, Gen Constantino Chiwenga, warned President Robert Mugabe of takeover.
Chiwenga had threatened Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF party after the sacking of vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Eyewitnesses told Independent UK that military vehicles were also blocking major roads outside the city.
Local media also reported that heavily armed military personnel had sealed off state TV broadcaster ZBC.
“The current purging, which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background, must stop forthwith,” Chiwenga had told a media conference at military headquarters.
“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”.
The army boss added that the infighting in the party was damaging the country’s economy.
“There is distress, trepidation and despondence within the nation,” he continued.
“As a result of the squabbling, there has been no meaningful development in the country for the past five years.”
Mnangagwa was dismissed after clashing with Mugabe’s wife, Grace, who is now in prime position to succeed her 93-year-old husband.
His main rivals within the ruling Zanu-PF party are the younger Generation 40 or G40 group, which has Grace Mugabe’s support.
But the 75-year-old former vice-president has powerful military connections, having served as defence and state security minister.
Mnangagwa fled into exile, vowing to return and has launched a direct challenge to Mugabe by calling for members of the ruling party to desert the president.
Before his sack, Mnangagwa, aka Crocodile, defiantly told Mugabe that the party was “not personal property for you and your wife to do as you please”.