Deadline passes for Mugabe to quit as party leader

Members of Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party are preparing to meet to discuss the possible impeachment of President Robert Mugabe, after a deadline for his resignation came and went on Monday.

The deadline was set by Mr Mugabe’s own party, Zanu-PF.

The embattled leader surprised Zimbabweans on Sunday, declaring on TV that he planned to remain as president.

Zanu-PF says it backs impeachment, and proceedings could begin as soon as Tuesday when parliament meets.

Mr Mugabe’s grip on power has weakened considerably since the country’s army intervened on Wednesday in a row over who should succeed him.

The crisis began two weeks ago when the 93-year-old leader sacked his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, angering army commanders who saw it as an attempt to position his wife Grace as next president.

Zimbabwe has since then seen huge street rallies demanding his immediate resignation.

The protests have been backed by the influential War veterans – who fought in the conflict that led to independence from Britain in 1980.

The group’s leader, Chris Mutsvangwa, on Monday called for more demonstrations against the president’s attempt to cling on to power.

“We want to see his back now,” Mr Mutsvangwa said. “Mugabe, your rule is over. The emperor has no clothes. Thank you very much.”

Choreographing a departure

Andrew Harding in Harare

The city is swirling with rumours that Mr Mugabe is planning his resignation and that he may go back on television announce it at any stage, that Sunday’s speech was simply about giving carte blanche to the military for what they’ve done.

But we just don’t know at this stage if he will give in to the pressure from the War veterans, his own party, and the public.

Mr Mugabe said in his speech that he planned to preside over the Zanu-PF congress next month, a statement people here found baffling after the party voted to strip him of his leadership and kick out his wife.

What is clear is that everyone here believes that the Mugabe era is over. Saturday’s protests unleashed something and people believe that a line has been crossed. Now it is really about negotiating the time, the process, the choreography of Mr Mugabe’s departure.

The fear of Zanu-PF and of the security services will not go away overnight. People here grew up with that fear. In the meantime, the streets are calm, but Tuesday may bring more demonstrations.

Source: BBC