Mugabe to negotiate exit deal?

The SABC is reporting that Zimbabwe is likely to have a transitional government, which means sacked vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa could act as president for at least three months.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - As South Africa's special envoys to Zimbabwe begin talks on the crisis in the neighbouring country on Thursday morning, there are reports that President Robert Mugabe has been given an opportunity to negotiate an exit deal, which includes state protection for him and his family.

This has not been independently verified.

The SABC is reporting that Zimbabwe is likely to have a transitional government, which means sacked vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa could act as president for at least three months.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Maphisa-Nqakula and her state security counterpart Bongani Bongo arrived in Harare on Wednesday night.

They were deployed after the army announced a purge of what it calls criminals around President Mugabe.

Mugabe is said to be safe at home, where the military is holding him and his family.

International relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela says that all involved, including Mugabe, will be invited to the discussions aimed at ending the crisis.

“I can confirm that the special envoys appointed by president Zuma have arrived in Zimbabwe, they were welcomed well. They have just been briefed at the VIP lounge.”

Meanwhile, in the city, traffic appears to be flowing as normal on the roads in Harare on Thursday morning.

Some private schools that had shut or only catered for a few pupils on Wednesday have now reopened.

The head of the public service commission, Mariyawanda Nzuwah told Thursday’s _Herald _newspaper that civil servants should report for work as usual.

The big question now is: will two envoys, sent by President Zuma to meet with Mugabe and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, have access to the main players as this situation unfolds?

GALLERY: On the ground in Zimbabwe

Meanwhile, the head of the Zanu-PF youth league has apologised to the head of the army for criticising him in a statement earlier this week.

Kudzai Chipanga was a close ally of First Lady Grace Mugabe and said earlier this week that he and other youths were willing to die for President Mugabe. This was a humiliation for Chipanga, who was arrested on Wednesday.

He appeared on state television on Wednesday night to read out a statement in which he apologised to the head of the defence forces, Constantine Chiwenga.

He said he had erred and was ill-advised and begged the commander to accept his apologies. He also claimed that he hadn’t been forced to make the apology.

Chipanga on Tuesday criticised the army for threatening to step in.

The state broadcaster has also changed its tune: it’s now giving positive coverage to war veteran leaders who have called for the removal of Mugabe as leader of Zanu-PF.