First there was the story that Grace Mugabe tried to poison him. Now Zimbabwean Vice-President Emmerson Mnangawa – pretty much a political thug himself – has been axed. He has reportedly fled to South Africa. But according to The Guardian, the British newspaper, he is gathering support.
This has all happened in less than a week. First the Vice-President was sacked. Then he fled to South Africa, it is believed. Then Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe himself was reported by News24 as saying outside Zanu-PF headquarters in Harare that Mnangagwa could be killed. His exact words were: “I am warning you, be careful. You can die.”
Mnangagwa said in a statement, in which he vowed to return and lead Zanu-PF, that the ruling party was “not the personal property of you (Mugabe) and your wife … to do as you please”. He pledged to “return to Zimbabwe to lead you”.
The Guardian reported that Mugabe now faced his biggest political challenge in almost two decades, as opposition grows to his authoritarian 37-year rule over the country – which started in 1980 when non-racial elections were held for the first time. Backing for change has come from the leader of the association of war veterans. He told reporters in Johannesburg that Mnangagwa would lead a campaign to restore democracy.
On Monday, Mugabe sacked Mnangagwa, apparently after a big fight which involved Grace. He had been viewed as a Mugabe lackey. He regularly represented Zanu-PF at African National Congress elective conferences.
It is now widely believed that Grace Mugabe, who heads the party’s woman’s league, will become Vice-President. The Guardian reported that Mnangagwa had previously been tipped as Mugabe’s likely successor.
Mnangagwa recently flew to South Africa to receive medical treatment after he claimed he had been struck down by poison-laced ice cream. The ice cream was apparently produced on Grace Mugabe’s farm. The other Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko reprimanted Mnangagwa, according to the BBC. In a statement Mphoko accused his co-Vice-president of lying about being poisoned.
The poisoning incident happened in August. Mphoko said stale food, and not poison, was to blame.