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Mugabe resisting mediation by priest, insisting he finishes his term

President Robert Mugabe. REUTERS PICTURES

President Robert Mugabe, 93, is insisting he remains Zimbabwe’s only legitimate ruler, and is resisting mediation by a priest who is acting as a middle-man between him and the generals, who seized power on Wednesday, a senior political source has told Reuters.

The priest, Fidelis Mukonori, is a popular author of  ‘The Genesis of Violence in Zimbabwe’ and has on several occasions assisted the country in national reconciliation,

Zimbabwe’s military seized power on Wednesday in an alleged operation against “criminals” in President Robert Mugabe entourage.

The source to Reuters could not provide details of the talks, “which appear to be aimed at a smooth and bloodless transition after the departure of Mugabe.”

Zimbabwean intelligence reports seen by Reuters suggest that former security chief Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was ousted as vice-president this month, has been mapping out a post-Mugabe vision with the military and opposition for more than a year.

Fuelling speculation that that plan might be rolling into action, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who has been receiving cancer treatment in Britain and South Africa, returned to Harare late on Wednesday, his spokesman said.

The intelligence reports also suggest Mugabe’s exit was in the planning for more than a year.

South Africa government said Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, told President Jacob Zuma by telephone on Wednesday that he was confined to his home but was otherwise fine and the military said it was keeping him and his family, including wife Grace, safe.

The Telegraph newspaper reports that since this crisis hit, there is little public affection for 52-year-old Grace, a former government typist who started having an affair with Mugabe in the early 1990s as his first wife, Sally, was dying of kidney disease.

Dubbed “DisGrace” or “Gucci Grace” on account of her reputed love of shopping, she enjoyed a meteoric rise through the ranks of Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF in the last two years, culminating in Mnangagwa’s removal a week ago – a move seen as clearing the way for her to succeed her husband.

In contrast to the high political drama unfolding behind closed doors, the streets of the capital remained calm, according to Reuters, with people going about their daily business, albeit under the watch of soldiers on armoured vehicles at strategic locations.

Additional reporting by the Telegraph.

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