Mnangagwa, assures Mugabe of safety, demands an end to retributions

Zimbabwe's former President Robert Mugabe arrives for the extraordinary session of the African Union's Assembly of Heads of State and Government on the case of African Relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC), in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, October 12, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
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HARARE – Incoming Zimbabwe leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa, assured former President Robert Mugabe, he and his family would be safe in the country, state media said on Friday.

Mnangagwa gave the assurance Friday, when the two men spoke for the first time since he returned home this week.

The state-owned The Herald newspaper said Mugabe and Mnangagwa, who was sworn in as president on Friday, had agreed that the former leader may not attend the swearing-in ceremony because he was tired.

Also, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), an intergovernmental organisation, said on Friday that it was ready to work closely with Zimbabwe’s incoming leader Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government.

Mnangagwa was sworn in following the resignation of Robert Mugabe, who had ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.

Similarly, Mugabe was granted immunity from prosecution, sources close to the negotiations said on Thursday.

According to the source, Mugabe was assured that his safety would be protected in his home country as part of a deal that led to his resignation.

A government source said Mugabe, who is 93, told negotiators he wanted to die in Zimbabwe and had no plans to live in exile.

“It was very emotional for him and he was forceful about it,” said the source, who is not authorised to speak on the details of the negotiated settlement.

“For him it was very important that he be guaranteed security to stay in the country…although that will not stop him from traveling abroad when he wants to or has to,” the source said.

Mugabe’s rapid downfall was triggered by a battle to succeed him that pitted Mnangagwa against Mugabe’s wife Grace.

Mnangagwa has called on Zimbabweans to stop retribution and embrace peace as he starts his first day of office after former president Robert Mugabe’s resignation on Tuesday.

Mnangagwa’s call came amid renewed military raids yesterday on Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere’s houses in Greystone Park and Glen Lorne respectively, and private offices of the latter.

“Soldiers raided our house yesterday again; they harassed maids and abducted Kasukuwere’s niece. They took all the cars. The staff at home cannot talk, they are all in tears and scared,” a family member said yesterday.

“They also went to Kasukuwere’s offices and demanded keys to the safe to get money. Upon failing to find the safe keys, they hunted down the employee who keeps the keys. They failed to find her, but took her sister instead. We are living in fear. We are appealing to the new president to help us and stop this terrorisation”

A relative of Moyo said: “They returned again and stormed the house, destroying all the repairs which had been made after last week’s attack. They ransacked the house, smashed the CCTV and looted. Mrs Moyo and kids are terribly traumatised.”

Finance minister Ignatius Chombo (pictured), who was seized last week, was said to have been released and dumped by soldiers at his gate yesterday only to taken by police.

Ignatius Chombo

“Chombo was dropped off at his gate last night, but immediately arrested by Law and Order police who took him to Rhodesville Police Station,” a relative of the minister said. “We are appealing to new president to rescue the situation; it is now becoming a serious humanitarian crisis.”

There were also moves this week to invade the Mugabe family’s Mazowe properties.

On Tuesday, Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko’s Choppies supermarket in Mutare was looted by some rogue elements who were celebrating Mugabe’s resignation.

Chombo, Moyo and Kasukuwere were kingpins of Zanu PF’s G40 faction led by former First Lady Grace Mugabe which was fighting with Mnangagwa’s group over Mugabe’s succession.

Sources said scores of security personnel from police and intelligence services were still under arrest since the military operation to weed out “criminals” last week. Among those who were arrested was Central Intelligence Organisation director of security Albert Ngulube who was brutally assaulted before being released and later hospitalised.

However, Mnangagwa said yesterday he was working on transitional arrangements which will lead to a new dispensation but called on Zimbabweans to avoid retribution in the meantime.

“While this is going on, I implore all Zimbabweans to remain patient and peaceful and desist from any form of vengeful retribution … Let us not therefore allow criminal elements bent on destabilising the peace and tranquillity prevailing in our country, by either settling political or social scores outside the ambit of the law,” Mnangagwa said.

“We are all Zimbabweans and let us be exemplary as we work towards consolidation of our unity and the prosperity of our nation. In this vein, I would implore our citizens to refrain from malicious practices and report any such incidences to the law enforcement agencies for their appropriate legal action.”