NEWS

I am still Zimbabwe’s legitimate leader, Mugabe insists

An armoured tank patrols the streets of Harare soon after the take over. File photo.

Zimbabweans are waiting to see what steps the military will take next after seizing control of the country on Wednesday and ending Robert Mugabe’s 37-year-rule.

Mugabe who was set to announce his resignation today, Thursday, November 16, however, insists he is the man in charge and has refused to heed to calls demanding him to resign as the country’s ruler.

A Catholic priest close to the Mugabe family, Father Fidelis Mukonori, is said to be involved with negotiations between Mugabe and the military.

The move aims at securing him a graceful exit, according to media reports, but the aging leader insists he is the country’s legitimate leader and should be allowed to serve out his term.

The once invincible leader is said to be under house arrest but the whereabouts of his wife Grace, who was bidding to succeed him as president, are unknown.

South African ministers have been in the capital Harare meeting the army and political parties.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc will hold emergency talks on Thursday.

President Mugabe, 93, has been in control of Zimbabwe since it gained independence from Britain in 1980.
But the power struggle over who might succeed him, between his wife Grace Mugabe and her rival former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, has split the ruling Zanu-PF party in recent months.

Did Robert Mugabe press the wrong button?
Last week, Mr Mugabe came down in favour of his wife, sacking Mr Mnangagwa, a veteran of Zimbabwe’s anti-colonial struggle and of Zanu-PF.

That proved too much for military leaders, who seized control of the country on Wednesday.

Robert Mugabe and wife Grace Mugabe during happier times. File photo.

The future of the Mugabes?

On Wednesday, the office of South African President Jacob Zuma said he had spoken by phone to President Mugabe who had indicated “he was confined to his home but said that he was fine”.

Zanu-PF’s UK representative Nick Mangwana has suggested to international media that Mr Mugabe could remain nominally in power until the party congress in December, when Mr Mnangagwa would be formally installed as party and national leader.

Grace Mugabe’s whereabouts are unclear. Namibian officials have denied reports she is there. Reports suggest that the military are now trying to quash the threat posed by Mrs Mugabe and her allies.

On Wednesday, one of her key allies, Zanu-PF youth wing leader Kudzai Chipanga, made a televised apology for criticising the head of the army as a war of words raged prior to the military takeover.

Zimbabwe media reports say a number of other senior members of the “Generation-40” group supportive of the first lady have been detained.

They are said to include Zanu-PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo.

What do the opposition parties want?
One Zimbabwean opposition leader, Tendai Biti, told international media he wanted to see a transitional authority in place.

“It is urgent that we go back to democracy. It is urgent that we go back to legitimacy but we need a transitional period and I think, I hope, that dialogue can now be opened between the army and Zimbabweans,” he said.

He later told Reuters that he would join a national unity government if Morgan Tsvangirai, head of the Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T) party, was also in it. Mr Tsvangirai has been abroad receiving treatment for cancer.

It remains to be seen whether the 93-year-old can be persuaded to make some sort of statement, legitimising the upheavals of the past two days, in return for a peaceful retirement, the safety of his wife and family.

Meanwhile, there have been no reports of unrest in Zimbabwe. Correspondents say many people have accepted that President Mugabe is being eased from office. Streets in Harare are said to be quieter than usual but people are going about their business.

 

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