- ZANU-PF sacks him, installs Mnangagwa as leader
Okechukwu Uwaezuoke with agency reports
Embattled President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe Sunday remained adamant, insisting that he would hold on to power, at least, till the December congress of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), which had relieved him as its leader and gave him up to noon Monday to resign as president or risk impeachment.
ZANU-PF had Sunday appointed Emmerson Mnangagwa, who Mugabe had fired as vice-president two weeks ago, as its new leader.
The party, according to the BBC, had given 93-year-old Mugabe until noon Monday to resign as president or face impeachment.
But Reuters reported last night that Mugabe had vowed not to resign, leaving the ZANU-PF with no other option than to purse his impeachment.
The embattled president insisted in a broadcast Sunday that he would hang on until the party’s congress in December.
“The congress is due in a few weeks from now. I will preside over its processes, which must not be prepossessed by any acts calculated to undermine it or to compromise the outcomes in the eyes of the public,” Mr. Mugabe said.
“I’m confident that from tonight our whole nation at all levels gets refocused… Let us all move forward,” he concluded.
The military had intervened last week, in an apparent attempt to block him from installing his wife, Grace, as his successor.
Grace and several other senior officials have been expelled from the party.
Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans attended street protests on Saturday, demonstrating against Mugabe who met for long hours with military leaders Sunday before the meeting of the ZANU-PF that eventually showed him the door out of power.
While no details of the meeting had been released, Mugabe was said to be seeking more time to negotiate his exit after nearly four decades in power.
Cheering erupted when the decision to dismiss him as party leader was announced in Harare Sunday.
One senior official later told the BBC’s Andrew Harding: “It’s the dawn of a new era. Mugabe can go farming.”
Zanu-PF’s Central Committee also warned that impeachment proceedings would begin if Mugabe did not step down as president by noon local time on today.
Impeaching the president would require a two-thirds majority in both houses of Zimbabwe’s parliament, which is due to resume on Tuesday.
The opposition MDC-T party had tried unsuccessfully to impeach Mugabe in the past, but this time the ruling party – which has an overwhelming majority in both houses – is likely to go against him.
The military under the command of the Army Chief, General Constantino Chiwenga, had rolled out the tanks on Thursday, placing Mugabe and his wife under house arrest in an action it said was not a coup d’état but a move targeted at “criminals around the president.”
“We assure the world that this is not a military takeover of government,” an army spokesman said in a televised statement on state television network, adding: “We are only targeting criminals around him (President Mugabe), who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice. As soon as we have accomplish our mission we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”
Although reactions across the globe was muted with leaders calling for calm, peace and respect for the constitution of Zimbabwe, the response in the country was that of support for the military whose action was plainly to force Mugabe out of office.
Veterans of the liberation struggle– formerly Mugabe’s staunch allies – added their voice to the calls for his resignation and demanded that he leave office Sunday.
The new ZANU-PF leader, Mnangagwa, is 75 and was touted as Mugabe’s likely successor before he was fired on November 6.
The ouster of this long-serving veteran of the liberation wars of the 1970s was seen as a ploy to position Grace for the eventual succession of her husband.
The ZANU-PF leadership, concluding its meeting Sunday, accused Grace of “preaching hate, divisiveness and assuming roles and powers not delegated to her office”. This was followed by her removal as head of the women’s league.
The party plans to formalise its decisions at a special congress next month even as one of its members hinted that there could be prosecutions of members of a party faction close to the first lady.