UNUSUAL heightened activity at the Zimbabwe National Army’s Mechanised Brigade in Darwendale, spooked government to spiritedly dispel swirling rumours of a brewing coup against President Emmerson Mnangagwa, military and government sources said.
When Mugabe was ousted, subsequently catapulting Mnangagwa to the helm, the Mechanised Brigade under the leadership of General Constantino Chiwenga played an influential role in the military operation that restricted the long-time ruler to his opulent Blue Roof mansion in the capital.
Located just 40km North of Harare, the Mechanised Brigade comprises of specially trained soldiers and is in charge of the entire national armoury.
It is also responsible for security the greater Harare region.
President Mnangagwa’s stay in power has been turbulent, not least because of the worsening economic crisis, but also ambitions by Chiwenga to assume the presidency.
Military sources said the Mechanised Brigade, was in a state of preparedness, undertaking a series of drills in what appeared to have been a “routine refresher course”, a few days before last week’s Joc press conference.
The sources said the press conference by Joc, which brings together military, police and intelligence chiefs, could have been unnerved by the heightened activity by the Mechanised Brigade, amid simmering disquiet within the army over the worsening economic environment and deteriorating working conditions.
Said the source:
“During the course of this month, the Mechanised Brigade in Darwendale was undertaking sustained drills, in full military combat in what appeared to have been a routine refresher course.
“As part of the ‘exercises’, the troops brought out cascavels in what appeared to have been an intensive drill. Instructively, the sustained military drills came to an end a few days before Joc convened last week’s press conference that was addressed by minister Kazembe,” a military source who spoke on condition of anonymity said.
Sources also said the unusual move by Joc was a result of cumulative anxiety over the disquiet within the army, which had led to rampant indiscipline among troops.
“At the 2 Presidential Guard infantry battalion for instance, the level of indiscipline had severely worsened.
“Some officers were not even reporting for duty and they could be seen watering their gardens of basking in the sun within the precincts of the camp and commanders have been having a torrid time trying to bring normalcy back,” one source said.
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