International desk, November 22: Zimbabwe’s former vice-president, whose sacking led to the shock resignation of long-time leader Robert Mugabe, could be sworn in as the new president within hours, the ruling party says.Emmerson Mnangagwa, who fled to South Africa two weeks ago, is due to arrive back on Wednesday, the Zanu-PF says.
His dismissal led both the party and the military to intervene and force an end to Mr Mugabe’s 37-year long rule.
The news sparked wild celebrations across the country late into the night.
The announcement that the 93-year-old was stepping down came in the form of a letter read out in parliament on Wednesday, abruptly halting impeachment proceedings against him.
In it, Mr Mugabe said he was resigning to allow a smooth and peaceful transfer of power, and that his decision was voluntary.
A Zanu-PF spokesman said Mr Mnangagwa, 71, would serve the remainder of Mr Mugabe’s term until elections which are due to take place by September 2018.
He is expected to land back in Zimbabwe at 11:30 GMT and be sworn-in on either Wednesday or Thursday, one of his allies, Larry Mavhima, told Reuters.
Nicknamed the “crocodile” due to his political cunning, Mr Mnangagwa issued a statement from exile calling on Zimbabweans to unite to rebuild the country.
“Together, we will ensure a peaceful transition to the consolidation of our democracy, and bring in a fresh start for all Zimbabweans and foster peace and unity,” Mr Mnangagwa told Zimbabwe’s NewsDay on Tuesday.