Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe apparently resisted efforts to step down in the wake of an audacious seizure of power by the army, until this week a key pillar of his 37-year-rule.
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe declaration to resign pledging to preside over a ZANU-PF congress next month is all up for a new tomorrow
Making tomorrow worth is the new quote for Zimbabwe.
Mugabe said that he acknowledged criticism against him from ZANU-PF, the military and the public.The leader of Zimbabwe’s war veterans said on Sunday plans to impeach Mugabe would go ahead as scheduled.
Mugabe, the only leader the southern African nation has known since independence from Britain in 1980, was replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa. He was renowned in his early years as the “Thinking Man’s Guerrilla”, an ironic nickname for a man who would later proudly declare he held a “degree in violence”.
As the economy crumbled and political opposition to his rule grew in the late 1990s, Mugabe seized thousands of white-owned farms, detained opponents and unleashed security forces to crush dissent.
Mugabe’s wife Grace, was also expelled from ZANU-PF, along with at least three cabinet ministers who had formed the backbone of her “G40” political faction.
The next presidential election is due in 2018.
Mugabe’s stunning downfall is likely to send shockwaves across Africa, where a number of entrenched strongmen, from Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni to Democratic Republic of Congo’s Joseph Kabila, are facing mounting pressure to step down.
Speaking from a secret location in South Africa, his nephew, Patrick Zhuwao, told that Mugabe and his wife were “ready to die for what is correct” rather than step down in order to legitimize what he described as a coup.
“The real danger of the current situation is that having got their new preferred candidate into State House, the military will want to keep him or her there, no matter what the electorate wills,” former education minister David Coltart said.
The United States, a longtime Mugabe critic, said it was looking forward to a new era in Zimbabwe, while President Ian Khama of neighboring Botswana said Mugabe had no diplomatic support in the region and should resign at once.
The appearance of General Constantino Chiwenga insisting the Zimbabwean Defence Forces are dealing with a “criminal gang” and would restore the constitution and the rule of law is perhaps enough to suggest there’s a way out, a new route to recovery via more democratic rule.
There’s the usual clashes between the Army and the police.
The unfolding drama in the capital Harare was thrown into confusion when a smiling Mugabe was pictured shaking hands with Zimbabwe’s military chief, the man behind the coup, raising questions about whether or not the end of an era was nigh.
The army may want Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, to go quietly and allow a smooth and bloodless transition to Emmerson Mnangagwa, the vice president Mugabe sacked last week, triggering the crisis.
The main goal of the generals is to prevent Mugabe from handing power to his wife Grace, 41 years his junior, who has built a following among the ruling party’s youth wing and appeared on the cusp of power after Mnangagwa was pushed out.
Per sources, Mugabe, who at 93 has appeared increasingly frail in public, is insisting he remains Zimbabwe’s only legitimate ruler and is refusing to quit. But pressure was mounting on the former guerrilla to accept offers of a graceful exit
The army’s takeover signaled the collapse in less than 36 hours of the security, intelligence and patronage networks that sustained Mugabe through almost four decades in power and built him into the “Grand Old Man” of African politics.
Mugabe is still seen by many Africans as a liberation hero. But he is reviled in the West as a despot whose disastrous handling of the economy and willingness to resort to violence to maintain power pauperized one of Africa’s most promising states.
Once a regional bread-basket, Zimbabwe saw its economy collapse in the wake of the seizure of white-owned farms in the early 2000s, followed by runaway money-printing that catapulted inflation to 500 billion percent in 2008.