The sacked vice-president of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has fled the country and could be on his way to SA.
He said he feared for his life after several attempts were made to eliminate him and issued a direct challenge to President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace, in an angry five-page statement.
The governing Zanu (PF) party "is not personal property for you and your wife to do as you please", Mnangagwa said, as he vowed to return to Zimbabwe to lead party members.
He was the foremost contender to succeed Mugabe, but his abrupt removal on Monday after weeks of public clashes with Mugabe and his wife appeared to clear the way for her to take over as president.
"[Zanu (PF)] is now a party controlled by undisciplined, egotistical and self-serving minnows who derive their power not from the people and party, but from only two individuals in … the first family," he said.
Chris Mutsvangwa, leader of the war veterans, which is seen to be in Mnangagwa’s camp, shrugged off suggestions that they could topple the president. "We do not subscribe to coups," he said in Johannesburg, describing Grace Mugabe’s position as a "coup by marriage certificate ... we have to resist it".