Zimbabwe army chief says ex-VP to return soon, urges calm

Harare: Ousted Zimbabwean vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa is in contact with President Robert Mugabe and will return home soon, the army chief said today as he called for “calm and patience”.
“The security services are encouraged by new developments which include contact between the president and the former vice president comrade Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa who is expected in the country shortly,” army chief general Constantino Chiwenga said on television.
“Thereafter the nation will be advised of the outcome of talks between the two.”
“The Zimbabwean defence and security services further urge Zimbabweans to remain calm and patient” while a “solution and road map is found for the country,” he added.
Chiwenga’s statement comes after Mugabe stunned the nation on Sunday and did not mention resigning during a long and rambling speech during which he was flanked by the generals who seized power from him a week earlier.
Many Zimbabweans had thought that Mnangagwa, who is believed to have fled to South Africa after being sacked by Mugabe on November 6 — triggering the current crisis — was already back in the country.
Last Friday, a senior aide who declined to be named said Mnangagwa had returned to Zimbabwe a day earlier, after spending nearly a week abroad.
It was exactly a week ago that Chiwenga delivered a statement flanked by top military brass in which he warned he would intervene if Mugabe purged any other top leaders like Mnangagwa. It was apparently the climax of a long-running battle between Mnangagwa and First Lady Grace Mugabe to be the frontrunner to replace the ailing 93-year-old president.