HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe’s new president says he risked gunfire and an hours-long walk amid land mines while escaping a plot to “eliminate” him after Robert Mugabe fired him as his deputy last year.
A state-run Zimbabwe Herald report on Saturday said President Emmerson Mnangagwa revealed the details in remarks to Zimbabweans during an official visit to Angola.
Mnangagwa said he fled Zimbabwe hours after his firing as vice president in early November, warned of “a mission to eliminate me.” He said he traveled to a border post with Mozambique but was told he could not leave.
He said one of his sons thwarted an effort to shoot him. “He is an officer and was able to grab the weapon and I was not shot,” Mnangagwa was quoted as saying.
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Mnangagwa said he then walked for 10 hours through a land mine-infested area in Mozambique and then took a plane from the port city of Beira to South Africa.
He returned days later in triumph to Zimbabwe after the 93-year-old Mugabe resigned under pressure from the military and ruling party amid fears that his unpopular wife was positioning herself to succeed him.
In his comments in Angola, Mnangagwa also spoke about reports that he had been poisoned at a ruling party rally and airlifted to South Africa last year, saying that after treatment “I was declared (poison) free. It is now undetectable.”
The new president, a longtime ally of Mugabe, asked the country during his inauguration speech to let “bygones be bygones.” Mugabe remains in Zimbabwe, and Mnangagwa in a recent government notice spelled out benefits for him and any future president who serves at least one term. They include government-funded accommodation, security details and an undisclosed entertainment allowance.