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Zimbabwe’s vice president flown to South Africa for emergency treatment

HARARE

Zimbabwe’s vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is seen as favourite to succeed President Robert Mugabe, has been flown to South Africa for emergency medical care, officials said Monday.

Mr Mnangagwa, 74, fell ill at a rally where President Mugabe spoke on Saturday in the southern town of Gwanda, and suffered suspected severe food poisoning.

“Some of his doctors are in South Africa,” Health Minister David Parirenyatwa told reporters in the capital Harare.

“He is well. He is much better, almost jovial. He was vomiting with diarrhoea and became dehydrated. He has done a battery of tests.”

With President Mugabe, 93, in increasingly frail health, speculation over his successor has focused on Mr Mnangagwa, a veteran regime loyalist.

His main rivals within the ruling Zanu-PF party are the younger “Generation 40” or “G40” group, which is seen as supported by the first lady, Grace Mugabe, who could herself be a potential presidential candidate.

President Mugabe, who often travels abroad for medical treatment, has refused to name a successor and repeatedly denounced factionalism in the party.

“Vice President Mnangagwa is not yet back from hospital in Johannesburg,” the president said in a speech on Monday without giving details.

Zimbabwe is due to hold elections next year, with opposition parties in talks to try to unite and field one candidate to oppose President Mugabe.

Past elections have been tainted by violence and intimidation by ZANU-PF operatives.

“We hope the election exercise will be done in peace,” Mr Mugabe said.

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