In Summary
  • Emmerson Mnangagwa was removed by Zimbabwe's leader Robert Mugabe as vice president on Monday after a bitter tussle with the first lady over succession.
  • Mnangagwa, 75, had been one of the president's closest allies since Mugabe took power in 1980 after leading the fight against British rule.
  • Mnangagwa said he had viewed his relationship with Mugabe as like between a father and son, and that he had even acted as Mugabe's personal bodyguard.

HARARE

Zimbabwe's sacked vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has said he had fled the country, as he issued a direct challenge to the nation's long-ruling leader Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace.

The ruling ZANU-PF party "is not personal property for you and your wife to do as you please," Mnangagwa said in an angry five-page statement, vowing he would return to Zimbabwe to lead party members.

Mnangagwa, nicknamed "the Crocodile" due to his ruthless personality, was the foremost contender to succeed Mugabe, 93, but his abrupt removal appeared to clear the way for Grace to move in to take over as president.

'DEMI-GODS'

His vow to fight back marked a new level of political instability in Zimbabwe, where Mugabe, who is the world's oldest head of state and is in increasingly frail health, has ruled unopposed for decades.

"(ZANU-PF) is now a party controlled by undisciplined, egotistical and self-serving minnows who derive their power not from the people and party but from only two individuals in the form of the First Family," Mnangagwa said.

He said the Mugabes acted as if they were "demi-gods", serving only their own interests.

Mnangagwa, 75, had been one of the president's closest allies since Mugabe took power in 1980 after leading the fight against British rule.

He was sacked on Monday following weeks of public clashes with Mugabe and Grace.

After his outburst on Wednesday, the ruling party kicked Mnagagawa out of its ranks.

"The politburo has unanimously expelled former vice president and second secretary of ZANU PF Comrade ED Mnagagawa", said party spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo.

'WE DEALT WITH HIM'

"We dealt with him and hope we can deal with others who were conspirators alongside him," President Mugabe told thousands of cheering supporters in Harare on Wednesday.

He said Mnangagwa "was lacking supreme discipline which we should show at the top."

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