NewsDay, the privately-owned Zimbabwe newspaper, is reporting that all the provincial branches of President Mugabe’s party have passed votes of no confidence in his leadership.
In a dramatic twist of events, all the ten Zanu PF provinces have passed a vote of no confidence on President Robert Mugabe, and declared the 93 year-old leader – who has been in office for 37 years – too old and incapacitated to lead both Zanu PF and government. The move, which comes at the height of a drama-filled week that saw the military taking control of the country, is a huge knock on the veteran’s leader’s prospects of retaining his presidency for much longer.
It’s not clear where NewsDay got this information, although other sources are saying the central committee of Zanu PF could meet as early as Sunday to decide on Mugabe’s fate. In the meantime, Mugabe is reported to have resisted pressure to step down in negotiations with the Zimbabwe military and could face impeachment. The possibility of impeachment is being discussed by Zimbabwe politicians who are loyal to Mugabe’s former deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose dismissal precipitated the crisis.
The grounds for impeachment might include the wealth accumulated by the Mugabe family, corruption amongst his wife’s allies and the collapse of the Zimbabwe economy (now half the size it was in 2000). According to Bloomberg.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe could be impeached if he doesn’t bow to pressure to resign, according to four officials close to mediation efforts aimed at ending a political standoff in the southern African nation. The military placed the Mugabe, 93, under house arrest on Wednesday and detained top officials who’d backed his wife, Grace, to succeed him. Mugabe has been made aware he could be impeached, but he initially dismissed the possibility, according to the people. He made his first public appearance Friday since the military relaxed restrictions on his movements, attending a university graduation ceremony in Harare and making cursory comments.
The impeachment threat was the latest pressure tactic against Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980 and is the world’s oldest-serving leader. He’s insisted that he remains the country’s legally elected chief and refused to quit or to reinstate his fired deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa. Defense force commander Constantino Chiwenga also has refused to yield ground, according to the officials. They asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to comment.
“This is a man who, for nearly four decades did whatever he liked,” said Eldred Masunungure, a political-science professor at the University of Zimbabwe. “We have to understand the psychological trauma this must be for him. But his time is definitely up. It’s not about if, but when. He knows with the loss of military support there is no way he can hang on to power.”
A successful impeachment would require a two thirds majority in both Zimbabwe’s houses of parliament, where the session resumes on 21 November 2017. The ruling Zanu PF party has a two-thirds majority in both. However, the party is split into two factions, one supporting Mnangagwa and the other supporting Mugabe’s wife. Pictures from the negotiations between Chiwenga and Mugabe were published in the state-controlled Herald newspaper.
Father Fidelis Mukonori, a Catholic priest and friend of Mugabe’s, is mediating in the talks, while South Africa representatives also attended. Tomorrow, Mugabe’s former allies, the war veterans, are hosting a national rally in Harare, where Zimbabweans from various political parties, religions and elsewhere are expected to attend.
As CNN reports, the US Secretary of State is appealing for a swift return to democracy.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressed concern Friday over the apparent military coup in Zimbabwe, urging "a quick return to civilian rule in that country in accordance with their constitution."
Speaking at a ministerial meeting on trade, security and governance in Africa at the State Department, Tillerson told his counterparts from the region, "Zimbabwe has an opportunity to set itself on a new path, one that must include democratic elections and respect for human rights.
"Ultimately," he emphasized, "the people of Zimbabwe must choose their government."
If Mugabe steps aside, voluntarily or forcibly, Emmerson Mnangagwa is likely to lead a transitional government, as Bloomberg explains.
Mnangagwa, the fired deputy, is a leading contender to head the transitional government, which may include opposition figures, according to the people. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he hadn’t been approached by the military rulers for talks on a transitional government, adding that he’s prepared to hold discussions with them.
“If we’re approached, we’ll participate in that, but for now nothing has been initiated,” he told reporters Thursday in Harare.
“It’s clear that the Mnangagwa faction needs to get Mugabe to vacate office as soon as possible” to keep his faction from regrouping, said Daniel Silke, director of Political Futures Consultancy in Cape Town. “The pressure will be on Mugabe to announce his resignation from the top job as soon as possible.”
But it looks like he’s going to make it as difficult as he possibly can for his opponents.