THE atmosphere in the country has been tranquil and serene despite the military holding President Robert Mugabe and his family hostage, while embarking on an operation to arrest his close associates.
By Owen Gagare
Military tanks and armoured personnel carriers rolled into Harare on Tuesday night, securing strategic points such as government offices, parliament and sealing off Mugabe’s Blue Roof mansion in an operation which also saw the military storming some ministers’ houses.
The army seized national broadcaster ZBC before Major-General Sibusiso Moyo went on air around 4am on Wednesday denying there was a coup. He said they were targeting “criminals” around Mugabe.
Moyo also said the army had moved in “to pacify a degenerating, political, social and economic situation in our country which if not addressed may result in violent conflict”.
Despite the tranquillity in the country, the army has, however, been vicious on people netted during the blitz including Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, Central Intelligence Organisation director of security Albert Ngulube and Zanu PF youth league secretary Kudzanayi Chipanga.
At Chombo’s house, an aide was killed when soldiers stormed his Mount Pleasant home before spraying bullets in the house.
Gunshots were also fired at ministers Jonathan Moyo and Saviour Kasukuwere’s houses.
Ngulube was arrested near Mugabe’s home, just after briefing Mugabe on the security situation in the country.
He reportedly stopped when he saw army tankers going in the direction of Mugabe’s home and asked the troops where they were going.
The soldiers, however, seized him as he was among a group of people targeted for capture to ensure Mugabe is isolated from his key security and political personnel.
“They took his cellphone, watch and gold chain and later detained and interrogated him. He was heavily battered. He has some cracks on his head and could have died,” said an official.
An official said a military officer, who was not happy with Ngulube’s beating, informed senior army officials of his plight, resulting in the intervention of top commanders to secure his release.
Ngulube was released on Wednesday, taken to hospital and later home.
Chombo and Chipanga were also tortured.
The situation in other parts of the country has also been calm with no sign of conflict.
There was a pronounced presence of military personnel and tanks in Harare on Wednesday but the army has been gradually scaling down since then.
The army has been manning some roadblocks and directing traffic in some instances, but soldiers manning the checkpoints have been treating motorists well.