Zimbabwe has accused the opposition of conniving with an unnamed world superpower to smuggle arms in an alleged bid to topple President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

State Security Minister Owen Ncube told journalists in the capital Harare on Monday that they were watching “attempts to drive Zimbabwe into chaos.”

The claims by the government followed a recent crackdown against dissent in the wake of widespread protests against corruption and the deteriorating economic situation.

“Some rogue elements among us are conniving with some hostile Western governments to smuggle guns and set up so-called democratic resistance committees that are, for all intents and purposes, violent militia groups,” Mr Ncube said.

“These plans are key components of Operation Lighthouse, the brainchild of one Western superpower that seeks to destroy the democratic foundations of Zimbabwe, make the country ungovernable and justify foreign intervention.”

He added: “As the security sector we shall take concrete action to deal with such threats.”

President’s claim

President Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu PF party accuses the United States of sponsoring opposition groups in Zimbabwe to foment chaos.

The party last month threatened to expel US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols, describing him as a thug.

Tension between Zimbabwe and the US has been rising in recent months after Harare stepped up arrests of government critics.

The country’s main opposition party MDC Alliance says it is under siege from President Mnangagwa’s government, which it accuses of trying to create a one party state.

Tendai Biti, the MDC Alliance deputy president, said the statements by the security minister showed a sinister plot to crack down on the opposition.