Mutiny in the ranks
Is Mugabe's mighty army about to fall apart?
The question of whether the latest reports of a possible power-sharing agreement between Mugabe and Tsvangirai are real or just fanciful became meaningless this week, when signs of violent mutiny amongst the armed forces were seen on the streets of the Zimbabwe capital, Harare.
For the first time since Independence, the army, for so long Mugabe's strong and oppressive right arm, is visibly breaking ranks, turning against its commanders, and demonstrating that it will no longer tolerate current conditions and pay.
This weekend bands of dissident soldiers took to the streets of Harare in an orgy of robbery, beatings and violent confrontations with the police riot squads - something that has never been known in living memory.
The first signs of trouble were witnessed last Thursday, when soldiers from Inkomo Barracks, in full uniform, who had queued all day at a branch of the ZABG bank to withdraw local currency, were told that the bank had run out of money.
The announcement only added to the frustration everyone in Zimbabwe feels over the government ruling that a maximum of $Z500,000 may be drawn at any one time - an amount that will scarcely buy more than a stick or two of chewing gum.
The angry soldiers moved into the streets and attacked several illegal dealers in foreign exchange who operate in the area. These dealers always have a ready supply of Zimbabwean dollars, provided to them by the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank in order to buy up foreign exchange, which is then used to finance government and Zanu-PF activities.
I myself saw two middle-aged men being beaten to a bloody pulp by troops, and there were other incidents when dealers handed over their money to the soldiers and ran for their lives.
The soldiers could be heard chanting slogans calling for the death of Gideon Gono, boss of the Reserve Bank. "Gono wanyanyha kuba," they sang. "Tichakuendesa kumakuva mangwana chaiwo." "Gono, your corruption has gone too far. We will send you to the grave soon."
The rioting and robbery continued during Friday, and on Saturday another group, numbering about 70, and also in full uniform, descended on Mupedzanhamo, a popular second-hand market in Mbare, and looted the vendors' goods.
When I went there the market was deserted. But a witness told me: "They went for currency dealers and ordinary stall holders. They looted clothes, shoes, belts, anything they could lay their hands on."
There are other rumours of trouble and mutiny amongst Mugabe's soldiers, including a possible strike, and some analysts are now predicting that if there is a popular rising against Zanu-PF it will be led by the military.
For the moment the solid wall of Mugabe's oppression and terror remains in place. But perhaps, for the first time, cracks are at last beginning to appear.