November 4 - Robert Mugabe speaks at a presidential youth interface rally in Bulawayo. Photo: ANA

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has negotiated with the country’s military for his wife Grace to leave the country and obtain “safe haven”, possibly in neighbouring South Africa, in return for him giving up power, a security source told African News Agency on Wednesday, adding that the 93-year-old head of state will announce his departure at a press conference on Thursday.

“Mugabe has negotiated for Grace to leave the country while he prepares to step down. Press conference tomorrow afternoon. Soldiers indeed have the president and his presidential guard under siege. Zimbabweans are urged to stay away from the CBD tomorrow,” the source said.

Zimbabwe's military has seized control of Harare and said it is acting against “criminals” surrounding 93-year-old Mugabe. But a military spokesman has denied this is a coup.

Events have unfolded after the head of the defence forces, General Constantino Chiwenga, warned the army would take “drastic action” if factions in the ruling Zanu PF did not stop purges against party members with military backgrounds.

This followed last week’s sacking of war veteran Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa amid a struggle for party leadership with Mugabe’s wife Grace, who is supported by the youthful “G40” party faction. Mnangagwa fled to South Africa but is rumoured to have returned to Zimbabwe on Wednesday to take control of government.

- African News Agency