Social Media users have reacted with mixed emotions after ex-vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa fled the country "to avoid life threatening situation".
Mnangagwa issued a direct challenge to Preesident Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace in a statement sent in exile on Wednesday.
Some Twitter users labelled the ex-vice president a "coward" who had "served the Mugabes very well for nearly four decades".
But some users were sympathetic towards Mnangagwa who until recently was tipped as Mugabe's heir.
In his statement Mnangagwa told his former boss that the ruling Zanu PF "is not personal property of you and your wife to do as you please".
"This is now a party controlled by undisciplined, egotistical and self-serving minnows who derive their power not from the people and party but from only two individuals in the form of the First Family," he said.
Mnangagwa said he was safe but did not mention his location.
He vowed to return to the southern African country and lead the party.