Harare - Emmerson Mnangagwa, who arrived in South Africa from Beira, Mozambique, on Wednesday evening, faces an uncertain future as police in Harare say they are gathering evidence to charge him for a variety of crimes from murder to treason.
Some believe he may seek political asylum in South Africa, although he says he will return home to fight next year’s elections.
Last Sunday, Mugabe told Mnangagwa to attend a meeting at his palatial house in the upmarket Borrowdale suburb north of Harare. Mnangagwa, who lives near the Mugabe estate, said that he would only see his boss for a business meeting at the president’s office at State House
There was no meeting.
Mnangagwa knew he was going to be sacked as Mugabe had warned him at a public rally on Saturday. And Grace told another rally the next day he was a traitor.
So on Monday, Mnangagwa arrived at his office in the centre of Harare at about 7. Long before most other cabinet ministers and civil servants showed up for work
The guards greeted him as he strode into the New Government Building, as it is called.
Mugabe phoned him again, and invited him to a meeting at his home. Again Mnangagwa said no, that he would only meet him at State House.
Mnangagwa packed up his papers, cleaned his desk, and told his associates he had sent his resignation to the cabinet secretary.
He closed the door and drove away in his official Mercedes Benz and went home. He didn’t go to State House for the usual Monday morning meeting he chairs with security personnel, known as the Joint Operation Command, JOC. His colleagues from the JOC didn’t show up either.
At 5 pm Mugabe’s information minister SK Moyo, a junior in the cabinet, told the country via a brief press conference, that Mnangagwa had been sacked.
Mnangagwa slept at home that night, but the next morning, Tuesday, police and army personnel who guarded his house were withdrawn. Mnangagwa confided to a few that threats against him and his family intensified.
He decided to leave the country, not only because of fears about security, but because he wasn’t feeling well, and felt he needed to see his doctors in Johannesburg for a check up since his last visit to South Africa in August when he was rushed across the border in a military aircraft as he and his allies claim he was poisoned.
So late on Tuesday afternoon he was driven to the Forbes Border Post among the mountains along the eastern border with Mozambique. Immigration officials and the police tried to stop him, but he pushed through, with his driver and guards, and the Mozambicans processed his documentation, and finally by midnight he was on his way towards the coastal town, Beira.
Police who usually support the Grace Mugabe, G40 faction within Zanu PF told local journalists in Harare on Friday that they have begun to investigate links between Mnangagwa and four murders and one attempted murder, and other political violence in connection with illegal gold panning in and around Mnangagwa’s home district, Kwekwe, in central Zimbabwe.
Several lawyers in Harare say that there are lines in Mnangagwa’s five page statement, issued as he crossed over into Mozambique which might form the basis of charges of treason.
Almost every major political leader in Zimbabwe has been charged with treason by Mugabe since 1980 independence.
Information minister Simon Khaya Moyo said Mnangagwa’s statement was being studied: “it is being carefully examined and appropriate response and action will be made afterwards” he told journalists in Harare.
The sentence in his statement which has excited several lawyers is: "I leave this post for now I encourage all loyal members of the party to remain in the party to register to
vote as we will very soon control the levers of power in our beautiful party and country,” and “You (Mugabe) and your cohorts will instead leave Zanu PF by the will of the people and this we will do in the coming weeks as Zimbabweans in general now require new progressive leadership that is not resident in the past and refuses to accept change.`'
Four people were arrested in second city Bulawayo this week accused of booing at Grace Mugabe at a rally in the city last Saturday.
A well-known businessman in Harare, who asked not to be named said: “We are shocked at what has happened to Mnangagwa. He was the one person within Zanu PF we believed had the sense to know how to fix the economy. We are not involved with him politically and we know his past. There are some potential investments out there and now he is gone."
Next month a new finance minister, Ignatius Chombo, who is a supporter of Grace Mugabe, will have to find December salaries and Christmas bonuses, and it will all have to be electronic money as there is no cash in Zimbabwe’s banks nor in the ATM’s.
Independent Foreign Service