Harare – Zimbabwean media says that President Robert Mugabe on Thursday reportedly “agreed in principle” to step down after 37 years in power, adding that he was set to exile in South Africa.
“He [Mugabe] has agreed in principle to step down. Details of his exit package are being worked out…. He will exile in South Africa,” a NewsDayreport quoted military and security sources as saying.
The report said that details of Mugabe’s exit conditions were still “closely-guarded”.
A report by AFP on Friday, however, said that Mugabe had refused to resign after meeting with the country’s generals. Sources suggesting that the veteran leader was “buying time” to negotiate his exit, the report said.
The talks in Harare on Thursday came after soldiers on Wednesday put Mugabe under house arrest, took over state TV and blockaded main roads in a stunning turnaround for the 93-year-old leader who has ruled the country with an iron fist since 1980.
Mugabe’s motorcade took him from his private residence to the State House for the talks, which were also attended by envoys from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc.
“They met today. He is refusing to step down. I think he is trying to buy time,” said a source close to the army leadership who declined to be named.
Government TV showed Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state, dressed in a navy blue blazer and grey trousers standing alongside army chief General Constantino Chiwenga who smiled and was dressed in fatigues.