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Zimbabwe's axed VP is safe, traveling to South Africa: ally

Zimbabwe's axed VP is safe, traveling to South Africa: ally

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"I would like my fellow citizens to know that I am now out of the country, and safe", he said without indicating which country he had escaped to.

In recent years he has emerged as Mr Mugabe's heir apparent and the leader of one of two powerful factions vying for influence within the ruling Zanu PF party.

It is widely believed President Mugabe's persistent siege and axing of his deputy was an attempt to clear the decks for his ambitious wife, who is now primed to become VP during a party extra-ordinary congress in December.

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The "Lacoste" group, named for the sportswear brand's crocodile logo and Mr Mnangagwa's war time nickname, has been locked in an increasingly bitter succession struggle with the so-called G40 group, centred around Mrs Mugabe.

The government-owned Chronicle newspaper published an excoriating editorial on Tuesday, accusing Mnangagwa and his supporters of being "prepared to stampede President Mugabe from power".

Mnangagwa replaced Joice Mujuru, who had been ousted and accused by Mugabe of using witchcraft to take power.

Zimbabwe's sacked vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa said Wednesday he had fled the country as he issued a direct challenge to long-ruling President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace.

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Mugabe on Monday fired his deputy as tensions between Mnangagwa and the veteran leader's wife Grace to succeed him intensified.

Top party officials are due to hold a politburo meeting on Wednesday.

"We have kicked him out for the same reasons", the president said.

The war veterans' statement used language similar to that used by Mr Mugabe's guerrillas during their fight against white minority-ruled Rhodesia in the 1970s.

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