Robert Mugabe accepts President Emmerson Mnangagwa as Zimbabwe’s legitimate leader after initially accusing him of leading a “disgraceful” de facto coup that ended his near four-decades rule last year.
On the eve of the July 30 vote, Mugabe said he would vote for the opposition to remove Mnangagwa’s “military government”, as the 94-year-old leader expressed bitterness and turned against one-time allies in the ruling ZANU-PF party.
At a funeral wake for his mother-in-law, Mugabe said Mnangagwa’s victory, still disputed by his main opponent Nelson Chamisa, made him a legitimate president, the privately-owned NewsDay and state-owned The Herald newspapers reported.
“The wrong that happened last November has been erased by his victory in the July 30 elections. We now have a government born out of the constitution. I accept his leadership and he deserves the support of every Zimbabwean,” Mugabe said, looking frail in video footage on an online television site.
“Before the elections, I did not support him because he came through illegal means which violated our liberation values that politics lead the gun,” added Mugabe, likely ending the feud between the new president and his former mentor.
Mugabe’s forced resignation divided ZANU-PF and created mistrust between the army on one side and the police and intelligence agency on the other, the rapprochement could help overcome those differences and rally others behind Mnangagwa.
The military last year intervened after expulsions of ZANU-PF officials sympathetic to Mnangagwa, then Mugabe’s deputy and to stop the presidential ambitions of the veteran former leader’s wife.
Mugabe’s wife Grace and a ZANU-PF faction known as G40 resisted Mnangagwa’s rise to power. Mugabe again denied he planned to install Grace as his preferred successor, NewsDay and The Herald reported.
At the wake Grace said people should pray for her husband. The couple travelled to Singapore several times this year for Mugabe’s medical treatment.