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VICE PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has returned home from South Africa where he was flown for emergency medical care for suspected food poisoning, a privately-owned newspaper reported Sunday.

Mnangagwa, 74, who is seen as a favourite to succeed President Robert Mugabe, fell ill at a rally where the president was speaking on August 12, suffering from what appeared to be severe food poisoning.

Citing unnamed sources, The Standard newspaper said Mnangagwa underwent surgery on Wednesday "to treat the alleged poisoning". State media did not report on his return.

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

Mnangagwa's main rivals within the ruling Zanu-PF come from the younger "G40" group which is thought to back Mugabe's wife Grace as a potential successor.


The president, who often travels abroad for medical treatment, has refused to name a successor and repeatedly denounced factionalism within the party.

Zimbabwe is to hold elections next year, with opposition parties in talks to try to unite in order to field a single candidate to oppose Mugabe.

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








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