What happened this week at the King George VI military barracks in Harare was certainly, as reports suggested, an event unprecedented in the 37-year history of Zimbabwe.
The head of the Zimbabwe National Army, General Constantino Chiwenga, told top military brass that the army would not allow President Robert Mugabe to continue to “purge” the ruling Zanu-PF party to pave the way for his wife, Grace, to take over as the country’s leader.
Chiwenga said that “when it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in”.
That was a clear warning that Mugabe faces a military coup if he does not deviate from the campaign to elevate Grace.
She and her supporters, on the other hand, vowed to “stand guard over the revolution” and “expel rogue elements from the military”.
The defence force, whose commanders are still largely Mugabe loyalists from the days of the independence war, have always been the staunchest supporters of the president, including killing thousands of people for him in Matabeleland in the ’80s.
Their threat is ominous and the prospects of a military junta now seem frighteningly real. That poor, blighted country has now slipped further down the road to anarchy.