- Philimon Bulwayo/Reuters
- Zimbabwe’s former prime minister and key opposition figure was spotted returning home Wednesday.
- Morgan Tsvangirai is ready to form a transitional government after the country’s military coup, according to local media.
- Tsvangirai may partner with the ousted vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was fired last week.
- President Robert Mugabe has refused to step down despite pressure from the military.
Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s former prime minister and key opposition figure, has been spotted returning home in what may be a bid to take back control from President Robert Mugabe, who is under house arrest after a military coup on Wednesday morning.
Tsvangirai, who founded the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai, known as MDC-T, and has been described as Mugabe’s “nemesis,” was seen on the same plane into the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, as a Sky News correspondent, the news network reported on Wednesday.
Tsvangirai, who served as prime minister from 2009 to 2013, had been in South Africa receiving medical treatment, the South African news site News24 said. It is not clear how long he was away.
Now, he may be ready to form a transitional government with Emmerson Mnangagwa, the vice president who fled the country last week after being sacked by Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s NewsDay newspaper reported.
Mnangagwa, a longtime Mugabe political ally, was removed from his position last week after Mugabe accused him of trying to plot against him with witchcraft.
- Thomson Reuters
Douglas Mwonzora, MDC-T’s secretary-general, told NewsDay on Wednesday: “It is clear that President Mugabe has outlived his welcome in Zimbabwe, and it is time that the president passes the baton.”
Christopher Mutsvangwa, the leader of Zimbabwe’s war veterans, also flew home on Wednesday, South Africa’s News24 reported, though it was unclear whether he was on the same plane as Tsvangirai. Mutsvangwa is also ready to form a transitional government with Tsvangirai and Mnangagwa, NewsDay said.
Mugabe, however, has insisted that he remain the country’s legitimate ruler despite the military’s calls for him to step down, Reuters reported on Thursday. He has insisted on completing his current presidential term, which technically ends next August, according to the Zimbabwean legislative watchdog Veritas.
According to Reuters, the 93-year-old president, his wife, Grace, and other key political allies are under house arrest at Mugabe’s mansion in Harare.
Zimbabwe’s military assumed control of the country Wednesday, taking over state TV and blocking access to parliament and courts – but has refused to call its actions a coup.
The military has said it wanted to target “criminals” around Mugabe, to “pacify a degenerating political, social, and economic situation” in the country, and to give back power “as soon we have accomplished our mission.”
Mwonzora, the MDC-T secretary-general, said on Wednesday: “If you call an elephant a rat, it doesn’t change, it is still an elephant. The president is effectively under house arrest, key ministers are under arrest, the army is imposing its will.
“That is a typical definition of a coup. It is a coup.”