Zimbabwe’s ruling party has given its 93-year-old leader, Robert Mugabe, less than 24 hours to quit as head of state or face impeachment.
Mugabe, the only leader the southern African nation has known since independence from Britain in 1980, was replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa, the deputy he sacked this month in a move that triggered Tuesday’s intervention by the army.
In scenes unthinkable just a week ago, the announcement was met by cheers from the 200 delegates packed into ZANU-PF’s Harare headquarters to seal the fate of Mugabe, whose support has crumbled in the four days since the army seized power.
Mugabe was given until noon (1000 GMT) on Monday to resign or face impeachment, an ignominious end to the career of the “Grand Old Man” of African politics who was once feted across the continent as an anti-colonial liberation hero.
Even in the West, 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”.
In a couple of hours, Robert Mugabe addressed the nation but didn’t step down.
President Robert Mugabe has caused confusion during his address to Zimbabwe where it appeared that he has vowed to remain as head of state.
The dictator was expected to step down yesterday after being given a deadline of 10am today to resign from his post.
But despite sources in Zimbabwe allegedly leaking information which suggested Mugabe was preparing to vacate the post, the 93-year-old leader did not step down.
Now, the leader of Zimbabwe’s war veterans said that plans to impeach President Robert Mugabe would go ahead as scheduled after the 93-year-old leader defied expectations.
Chris Mutsvangwa, who has been leading a campaign to oust Mugabe, is said to have told Reuters in a text message moments after Mugabe finished his speech that people would take to the streets of Harare on Wednesday.
In a statement on state TV, he said he was aware of a range of concerns citizens of the country have and that his people need peace, security, law and order.
He added that events of the past week show people are determined to resolve their differences peacefully but that they were not a threat to the constitution or his authority as head of state.