Zimbabwe’s ruling party has dismissed President Robert Mugabe as its leader, appointing former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa in his place.
- Despite party dismissal, Robert Mugabe remains President of Zimbabwe for now
- His party has referred to him as “outgoing President”
- Grace Mugabe expelled from the ZANU-PF party
Mr Mugabe’s wife Grace has also been expelled from the ZANU-PF party, the head of the country’s influential liberation war veterans Chris Mutsvangwa said, adding that processes to remove the 93-year-old as President would now begin.
Zimbabwe’s ruling party Central Committee said Mr Mugabe must resign as President by noon on Monday local time (9:00pm AEDT) or impeachment proceedings would start.
The party said Mr Mnangagwa would be nominated as ZANU-PF’s candidate to become the new president of Zimbabwe.
Grace Mugabe was among a number of party members who would be prosecuted, a ZANU-PF delegate said.
Attendants at the meeting sang and danced in celebration.
In his opening remarks at a meeting of ZANU-PF’s Central Committee, Obert Mpofu, the official chairing the gathering, said the party had come together with “a heavy heart” and hailed the beginning of “a new era, not only for our party but for our nation Zimbabwe”.
Analysis: A week ago, this was unthinkable
What you would expect to take several years to develop publicly has all unfolded barely in a week, and people have felt emboldened to come out on the streets — even if you had had a small anti-Mugabe rally a few weeks ago you would find yourself arrested very quickly.
The political situation here, in one way, has been turned completely upside down, but it will still take a long time to get the economy moving again and for people to have much more freedom of expression.
Everyone is thumbing through the Zimbabwean Constitution like never before as the rule book for what might happen next …
There is concern the impeachment process could take a very long time, there are also other provisions people are looking at for removal of the President, if he or she is no longer capable of carrying out their duty.
Parliament is scheduled to sit again on Tuesday, so really the military is hoping they can broker some kind of solution before then.
— Africa correspondent Sally Sara
He said Mr Mugabe had served the country and contributed “many memorable achievements”, but that Mr Mugabe’s wife Grace “and close associates have taken advantage of his frail condition” to loot national resources.
Mr Mpofu referred to Mr Mugabe as the “outgoing President”.
Speaking before the meeting, war veterans’ leader Mr Mutsvangwa said Mr Mugabe was running out of time to negotiate his departure and should leave the country while he could.
“He’s trying to bargain for a dignified exit,” he said.
Mr Mutsvangwa followed up with threat to call for street protests if Mr Mugabe refused to go, telling reporters: “We will bring back the crowds and they will do their business.”
Mr Mnangagwa, a former state security chief known as “The Crocodile”, is now in line to head an interim post-Mugabe unity government that will focus on rebuilding ties with the outside world and stabilising an economy in freefall.
Grace Mugabe has been expelled from ZANU-PF, while Emmerson Mnangagwa has been made its leader. (Reuters: Philimon Bulawayo, file)
Mr Mugabe, who at 93 is the oldest world leader, has been under house arrest since the military seized power last week.
He was due to meet on Sunday (local time) with the military for a second round of talks to negotiate his departure.
Who is Emmerson Mnangagwa?
- A former state security chief known as “The Crocodile”
- Was a leader during Zimbabwean War of Liberation
- Served a vice-president from 2014 until his dismissal last week
- Was sacked for displaying “traits of disloyalty”
- Had been a longtime ally of Robert Mugabe and seen as his protege
- Has the backing of Zimbabwe’s military
- Member of Karanga ethnic group, a subgroup of Zimbabwe’s majority Shona community
His stunning downfall in just four days is likely to send shockwaves across Africa, where a number of entrenched strongmen, from Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni to Democratic Republic of Congo’s Joseph Kabila, are facing mounting pressure to quit.
The Southern African Development Community will discuss Zimbabwe’s political crisis on Tuesday at a summit in the Angolan capital Luanda, South Africa said.
On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of people flooded the streets of Harare, singing, dancing and hugging soldiers in an outpouring of elation at Mr Mugabe’s expected overthrow.
Temba Mliswa: Big cheer and singing as Obert Mpofu announces agenda item on ZanuPF Central Committee meeting; removing Mugabe as leader
The huge crowds in Harare have given a quasi-democratic veneer to the army’s intervention, backing its assertion that it is merely effecting a constitutional transfer of power, rather than a plain coup, which would entail a diplomatic backlash.
Despite the euphoria, some Mugabe opponents are uneasy about the prominent role played by the military, and fear Zimbabwe might be swapping one army-backed autocrat with another, rather than allowing the people to choose their next leader.
“The real danger of the current situation is that having got their new preferred candidate into State House, the military will want to keep him or her there, no matter what the electorate wills,” former education minister David Coltart said.
ABC and wires