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Mnangagwa flies out of hiding to take over

ZIMBABWE’S sacked vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa returned from South Africa yesterday to take over from deposed president Robert Mugabe.

Parliamentary speaker Jacob Mudenda said Mr Mnangagwa — dubbed the “Crocodile” for his role in the 1983 Matabeleland massacres of opposition Zapu supporters — would be sworn in as president tomorrow.

The ruling Zanu-PF party expelled Mr Mugabe and named Mr Mnangagwa as its leader on Sunday. It met on Monday to impeach Mr Mugabe, though he resigned afterwards.

Ordinarily Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko would take over from Mr Mugabe. But Mr Mphoko — in Japan at the time of Tuesday’s military coup — is believed to be staying outside the country for fear of arrest by the army.

Mr Mnangagwa had fled to South Africa after being sacked by Mr Mugabe a week before the coup — reportedly to clear the way for Mr Mugabe’s wife Grace to take over.

He paid a “courtesy call” to South African President Jacob Zuma before returning to Zimbabwe.

Mr Mnangagwa had previously refused to return until military leaders could guarantee his safety.

Mr Zuma and Angolan President Joao Lourenco said on Tuesday they would fly to Zimbabwe to mediate between Mr Mugabe and coup leaders — called off after he resigned.

Yesterday the South African parliamentary foreign relations committee urged the government to “guarantee social, economic and political stability” in Zimbabwe.

The South African Communist Party welcomed Mr Mugabe’s resignation, while noting that “the underlying problems facing the people of Zimbabwe are systemic economic problems” including neoliberal policies imposed by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

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