President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Harare— Zimbabwe’s former higher education and tertiary minister Jonathan Moyo has claimed that President Emmerson Mnangagwa visited ailing opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai last week, in a bid to seek his support to postpone elections by three years.

General elections are due to take place either in July or August and will be the first, since independence in 1980, in which former President Robert Mugabe will not be participating.

Moyo’s comments were made during an interview on BBC’s HardTalk with anchor Zeinab Badawi, on Thursday morning.

This is the first time that Moyo has appeared in public since the resignation of Mugabe following a military-backed "soft coup" in November.

Moyo is in self-imposed exile, at an undisclosed location. It had been thought that he had fled to Kenya — where his wife is originally from.

The Kenyan government recently denied offering asylum to Moyo, who is wanted in Zimbabwe on allegations of corruption — in particular, the embezzling of funds meant for tertiary institutions.

Moyo said Mnangagwa and his deputy, Constantino Chiwenga, had "seized power through the bullet and not the ballot", and called for a return to constitutionalism.

He said many Zimbabweans had "burning questions" over what had happened to the former leader, Mugabe, who had been humiliated by the military intervention.

Moyo — widely regarded as a polarising figure in Zimbabwe — was a close ally of the Mugabe’s. He was seen as the power behind former first lady Grace Mugabe, who headed the so-called G-40 faction.

Grace Mugabe had had ambitions to succeed her 93-year-old husband—and just before the coup she had been about to be appointed the country’s vice-president, following the sacking of Mnangagwa by her husband.

Moyo scoffed at suggestions that Grace had not been popular in the country and said only "a minority might have had issues" with her.

He said in the interview that he had not been in contact with the couple since the fall of Mugabe’s rule in November.

Moyo said he fled his home in Borrowdale after receiving a tip off not to spend the night, on November 16, at the house.

"At about 2.30am, about 15 to 26 members of the military special forces stormed my house, with the intent to kill me. My family and I fled to my colleague Saviour Kasukuwere’s home. We were there, about 11 of us, when the military came to his house looking for him," he said.

Kasukuwere was the former local government minister and had held the position of political commissar in Zanu-PF. He and Moyo, along other members of the G-40 faction were banned for life at Zanu-PF’s national congress in December.

Responding to Moyo’s remarks on a local radio station, Presidential spokesperson George Charamba said: "Moyo should come to Zimbabwe and clear his name in the courts of law and not on BBC HardTalk. He is suffering from fears of his own making."