Lt. Gen. Rex Nhongo, commander of the Zimbabwean Army, reportedly is under investigation by the prime minister's office and police for an incident in which liquor was brought into the country illegally and customs officials were threatened.
Government, police and military officials all declined comment on the report, but sources close to the investigation have confirmed privately that the incident took place. Gen. Nhongo could not be reached for comment.
The incident reportedly occurred yesterday, when Nhongo and two majors flew back from Mozambique in an Air Force light plane. Nhongo is said to have refused to submit to customs when the plane landed at Buffalo Range in southeastern Zimbabwe for refueling.
When the plane arrived at Salisbury's military airport it was met by senior customs officials and a policeman who sought to confiscate the liquor, reportedly three crates.
Nhongo is reported to have pulled out a pistol while his bodyguards loaded the liquor into his car. The general and his companions are said to have driven off.
It is understood that Prime Minister Robert Mugabe is considering what action to take. Nhongo was commander of Mugabe's guerrilla army during the last part of the independence struggle. He was appointed Army commander last August, serving under Gen. Alexander MacLean, a former leader of the white-controlled Rhodesian Army who is now commander-in-chief of the military forces.
Nhongo has been involved in a number of other incidents also reportedly under investigation. Last January, he seized a Zimbabwean reporter and held him for several hours of questioning about a story the correspondent had filed.