An apparent attempt at a military coup in
Zimbabwe was nipped in the bud on Sunday by Robert Mugabe's secret service and
resulted in the arrest of three senior military officers. Another 400 junior
soldiers are believed to have been detained. Details are sketchy, but a
government source told
First Post it is believed the signal for the coup to begin was a
power black-out in the capital.
military planes were intercepted while fuelling at the Manyama military airbase
on the outskirts of Harare. They were bombed up, and their targets were
believed to be Zimbabwe House, Mugabe's official residence, and his mansion in
the suburb of Borrowdale Brook.
understood the pilots were detained. There's no information on where they are
three senior officers are currently under armed guard at their Harare homes, apparently
because the government is anxious to isolate them from other officers. They are
Maj Gen Angelbert Rugeje, Quartermaster at Army HQ, Col Ben Ncube, of the army
public relations directorate, and Air Vice Marshal Elson Moyo, deputy commander
of the air force.
is the younger brother of July Moyo, a former government minister who was fired
by Mugabe in a disagreement over the vice-presidency. Vice Marshall Moyo was
previously notorious for being sued for adultery with a policeman's wife.
The government is
desperate to keep news of the attempted coup from the general public, and the
power black-out was attributed to technical problems at the Hwange thermal
I asked the Minister of Defence, Sydney Sekeramayi, for a comment. He told me:
"I do not discuss military issues with journalists."
in a speech to a police cadet passing-out parade last Friday, President Mugabe
said the country was on high alert in order to counter any attempts to topple
his government. Observers believe he may have been referring to this attempt,
which would mean the plans were known by the government in advance of the
In a previous failed
coup, a number of officers were arrested in late 1998 on charges of
insurrection. The episode was reported in the independent newspaper the
Standard, in January 1999, and the
editor and writer were both arrested and tortured