Zimbabwe’s army chief has said ex-vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose dismissal on November 6 prompted a military takeover, is expected to return to the country “shortly”.
General Constantino Chiwenga told reporters on Monday that, following consultations, embattled President Robert Mugabe had started working towards “a definitive solution and roadmap for the country”.
His comments came after Mugabe ignored a noon deadline, imposed by the ruling ZANU-PF party, to offer his resignation.
The 93-year-old leader, who has been ruling Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, is now facing the threat of impeachment.
The rift between Mugabe and Mnangagwa triggered the army’s intervention on November 15, as well as unprecedented mass public protests calling for the veteran leader to stand down.
Chiwenga said Mugabe was in touch with Mnangagwa, who is seen as his likely successor.
Who is in charge of Zimbabwe?
“The security services are encouraged by new developments which include contact between the president and the former vice president … who is expected in the country shortly,” the military chief at the press conference.
“Thereafter the nation will be advised of the outcome of talks between the two,” added Chiwenga.
Cabinet meeting called
Mugabe has remained defiant despite being sacked as ZANU-PF’s leader on Sunday.
The veteran leader has called for a cabinet meeting on Tuesday ahead of a parliamentary session where impeachment proceedings against him are expected to begin.
After the passing of the Monday midday ultimatum, 230 members of ZANU-PF’s Central Committee endorsed the move to remove Mugabe, accusing him of being “the source of instability” and economic mismanagement over the past 15 years.
The impeachment of the veteran leader could see Mnangagwa appointed interim president, paving the way for him to succeed his former ally.
Christopher Mutsvangwa, leader of Zimbabwe’s influential war veterans association, also held a press conference on Monday, demanding Mugabe’s removal.
“As far as we are concerned, people don’t want to see him as president anymore,” he said.
“We are saying, ‘go now go now, your time is up. Please leave state house and let the country start on a new page’.”
With reporting by Tendai Marima in Harare. Follow her on Twitter: @i_amten