Zimbabwe's Mugabe Defies Expectations of Resignation in Address to Nation
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has shocked expectations that he would resign by pledging to remain on as leader of his ZANU-PF party in an address to the nation. That despite the party removing him as leader earlier in the day.
The party’s Central Committee had given the 93-year old less than 24 hours to vacate his office or face impeachment. The move was an attempt to draw his lengthy reign to a close following a de facto coup.
However when he addressed the nation on Sunday, Mugabe made no mention of resigning.
In a long speech Mugabe vowed to preside over ZANU-PF’s congress next month despite no longer being party leader.
“The congress is due in a few weeks from now. I will preside over its processes, which must not be possessed by any acts calculated to undermine it or compromise the outcomes in the eyes of the public,” he outlined.
The president said the “failures of the past” may have triggered anger “in some quarters". He said this was “quite understandable.”
The chairman of the Zimbabwe War Veterans Association, Chris Mutsvangwa, who led the campaign to oust the world’s oldest head of state, said Mugabe, 93, is “deaf and blind” to the desires of the people. He added that plans to impeach Mugabe would go ahead as planned.
Mutsvangwa also told Reuters that people would take to the streets of Harare on Wednesday.
The leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, echoed the sentiments, saying he was “baffled” by the address.
"I am baffled. It's not just me, it's the whole nation. He's playing a game. He has let the whole nation down," Tsvangirai told Reuters.
At a meeting in Harare earlier on Sunday, Zanu-PF chose Emmerson Mnangagwa, the former vice president fired by Mugabe two weeks ago, as the party leader.
The same motion also expelled Mugabe’s wife, Grace Mugabe, from her chair of the party’s women’s league. Speaking at a televised news conference, cyber security minister Patrick Chinamasa added that Mugabe has until noon on Monday to step down from the presidency or face impeachment.
The 93-year-old has led Zimbabwe since 1980, which throughout his controversial rule has seen periods of extreme hyperinflation, attacks on white farmers, and claims of human rights abuses. The elderly statesman was placed under house arrest by the military on Wednesday.