Ousted Zimbabwe vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa has turned down a meeting invite with President Robert Mugabe, warning him to step down immediately or face humiliation at the hands of the nation.
In a statement early on Tuesday, Mr Mnangagwa, believed to be in South Africa, said he would not be returning to Zimbabwe because he feared for his life as he no longer trusted President Mugabe.
“He requested me to come to State House, and I replied that I was out of the country, and that he had already removed my status as the vice-president of the country, as such I had no status. However, I can only come at the invitation of my colleagues in the party and of the defence forces, when they feel that my security is guaranteed,” said Mr Mnangagwa, a frontrunner to replace President Mugabe.
He said the security personnel assigned at his residence were immediately withdrawn after his dismissal early this month.
“Security personnel, who are friendly to me, warned me that plans were underfoot to eliminate me once arrested and taken to a police station. It was in my security interest to leave the country immediately.”
Mr Mnangagwa added that he told the 93-year-old leader that the current political and constitutional crisis was no longer “a matter between him and myself, but between the people of Zimbabwe and President Mugabe”.
He believes the people of Zimbabwe have expressed lack of trust and confidence in the leadership of President Mugabe through the marches held both at home and in various countries by the Zimbabwean diaspora on Saturday.
On Sunday, Zanu-PF’s central committee fired President Mugabe as the party’s chief, while the parliamentary caucus on Monday initiated impeachment proceedings against the veteran leader.
Impeachment could see President Mugabe kicked out in days after ruling the southern African country for the last 37 years. In the draft motion, the party accused him of being a “source of instability”, flouting the rule of law and presiding over an “unprecedented economic tailspin” in the last 15 years.
It also said he had abused his constitutional mandate to favour his unpopular wife Grace, whose angling for power triggered the backlash from the army that brought tanks onto the streets of the capital last week.