Zimbabwe's former president will receive a retirement package that includes a pension, housing, holiday and transport allowance, health insurance, limited air travel and security.

The 93-year-old Mugabe had clung on for a week after an army takeover, with the ruling party  ZANU PF urging him to go. (File photo)
The 93-year-old Mugabe had clung on for a week after an army takeover, with the ruling party ZANU PF urging him to go. (File photo) (Reuters)

Zimbabwe's former president Robert Mugabe was granted immunity from prosecution and assured that his safety would be protected in his home country as part of a deal that led to his resignation, sources close to the negotiations said on Thursday.

Mugabe, who had ruled Zimbabwe from independence in 1980, stepped down on Tuesday after the army seized power and the ruling party turned against him. 

Emmerson Mnangagwa, the former vice president sacked by Mugabe earlier this month, is set to be sworn in as president on Friday.

A government source said Mugabe, who is 93, told negotiators he wanted to die in Zimbabwe and had no plans to live in exile.

"It was very emotional for him and he was forceful about it," said the source, who is not authorised to speak on the details of the negotiated settlement.

"For him it was very important that he be guaranteed security to stay in the country ... although that will not stop him from travelling abroad when he wants to or has to," the source said.

Mugabe resigned on Tuesday as parliament began a process to impeach him, sparking wild celebrations in the streets. His rapid downfall after 37 years in power was triggered by a battle to succeed him that pitted Mnangagwa against Mugabe's much younger wife Grace.

"The outgoing president is obviously aware of the public hostility to his wife, the anger in some circles about the manner in which she conducted herself and approached ZANU PF party politics," a second source said.

"In that regard, it became necessary to also assure him that his whole family, including the wife, would be safe and secure."

Mugabe had clung on to power for a week after the military intervened. He angered many Zimbabweans when he did not resign in a televised address on Sunday as many had anticipated.

The government source said the tipping point for him was the realisation that he would be impeached and ousted in an undignified way.

"When the process started, he then realised he had lost the party," the source said.

Mugabe will receive a retirement package that includes a pension, housing, holiday and transport allowance, health insurance, limited air travel and security.

A new leader

Addressing a cheering crowd in Harare on Wednesday night, new leader Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was entering a new stage of democracy.

Mnangagwa had returned to the country earlier in the day, having fled for his safety when Mugabe sacked him as vice president two weeks ago to smooth a path to the succession for Grace.

"The people have spoken. The voice of the people is the voice of God," Mnangagwa told thousands of supporters gathered outside the ruling ZANU PF party's offices in the capital.

The army appears to have engineered a trouble-free path to power for Mnangagwa, who was for decades a faithful lieutenant of Mugabe and member of his elite.

His own human rights record also stirs hostility in many Zimbabweans. He was in charge of internal security when rights groups say 20,000 civilians were killed in the 1980s.

Restoring the country's fortunes and international standing will be a challenge. Human rights abuses and flawed elections prompted many Western countries to impose sanctions in the early 2000s that further hurt the economy, even with Chinese investment to soften the blow.

Staging clean elections next year will be key to winning fresh funds.

Source: Reuters