ZIMBABWE’S armed forces insisted yesterday that there was "no violation of constitutional processes" in their nine-day-old coup against former president Robert Mugabe.
That followed Wednesday night’s admission by his anointed successor, sacked vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, that he had been in contact with the top brass “throughout” the takeover.
A statement from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) said that it looked forward to a "massive gathering" for Mr Mnangagwa’s inauguration as president today.
The ruling Zanu-PF party, which purged Mr Mugabe and his supporters and appointed Mr Mnangagwa as leader on Sunday, has said the ceremony will take place at the 60,000-seat National Sports Stadium in the capital Harare.
But Zimbabwean legal think tank Veritas said “phantom” Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko is legally acting president until then, although his whereabouts remain unknown since he flew to Japan before the takeover last week.
Mr Mphoko succeeded Mr Mnangagawa when he was sacked by Mr Mugabe on November 6 for plotting to overthrow him.
Veritas said: "The fact that he was outside the country at the time is of no legal consequence.”
Mr Mugabe has not been seen since his Sunday TV appearance, although authorities in Zimbabwe have agreed to grant the former president immunity from prosecution and assured him of his safety in his home country.
Main opposition Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Obert Gutu pronounced himself "cautiously optimistic” of Mr Mnangagwa’s rule but demanded that "the electoral playing field” be “evened up” before next year’s election.
Preacher Evan Mawarire, who led anti-government protests last year, said that the country should be for everyone and not just the ruling party.
Mr Mnangagwa remains on a US sanctions list for leading an alleged crackdown on the MDC in the 2008 presidential election.
Speaking to supporters on Wednesday night after flying back from his hiding place in neighbouring South Africa, Mr Mnangagwa explained his absence as prompted by assassination threats.
He said within two hours of being sacked: “I was informed about a plan to eliminate me.”
He also claimed to have survived a poisoning attempt on August 12 that required him to be airlifted to South Africa for treatment.
He thanked the ZDF and its commander General Constantino Chiwenga for their “very disciplined” management of the “process.”
“I was in constant contact with the service chiefs throughout,” he said.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.