UPDATE 2: Mugabe shocks Zim, war vets say impeachment plans to go ahead with more protests next week

UPDATE 2: Mugabe shocks Zim, war vets say impeachment plans to go ahead with more protests next week

By Alfonce Mbizwo and Kudakwashe Chideme, HARARE, November 19 (The Source) – Zimbabwe’s long serving ruler Robert Mugabe shocked Zimbabwe by refusing to quit on Sunday, saying he will preside over the ruling ZANU-PF party’s special congress next month, a few hours after he was dismissed as leader of the ruling ZANU-PF party.

But war veterans leader Chris Mutsvangwa told Reuters that the ruling party MPs will go ahead with plans to impeach Mugabe on Tuesday and plans more protests on Wednesday next week to force him out as head of state.

In a televised speech on the the national broadcaster, ZBC, Mugabe, who was widely expected to quit, said he was a ware of the developments that had taken place but did not attack the military.

Opposition leader said the decision was ‘baffling.’

However, Mugabe said the military’s actions “did not amount to a threat to our well cherished constitutional order, nor was it a challenge to my authority as head of state and government. Not even as commander in chief of ZDF. The command element remained respectful and competed with dictates of constitutionalism.”

“Whatever are the pros and cons of the way they (military) went about registering those concerns, I as the president of Zimbabwe and as their commander in chief do acknowledge the issues they have drawn my attention to and do believe that these were raised in the spirit of honesty and out of deep and patriotic concern for the stability of our nation and for the welfare of our own people,” Mugabe said.

“I am also aware of a whole range of concerns which have come from the people as citizens of our great country and who thus deserve our untroubled attention.”

Of the tens of thousands of Zimbabweans who took to the street around the country to demand his resignation on Saturday, Mugabe said: “Zimbabweans, we are generally a peaceable disposed people and with a givenness to expressing our grievances and resolving our differences by ourselves and with a level of dignity, discipline and restraint so unreal to many other nations.”

The military, who took over power in a bloodless de facto coup on Tuesday last week, had pressured the 93-year old to end to his 37 years in power peacefully after his party sacked him and replaced him with Emmerson Mnangagwa, the deputy he fired earlier this month.

Mugabe’s removal was unthinkable a few weeks ago but his support has crumbled in the six days since the army seized power and confined him to his private Borrowdale residence.

The party’s central committee, packed with loyalists who as late as last week were singing his praises, had given him until Monday midday to resign as head of state or face impeachment in Parliament where the party holds a two thirds majority.

A special session of the party’s central committee was held at the party headquarters and resolved to remove Mugabe as the party’s leader, replacing him with Emmerson Mnangagwa, the deputy who was fired by Mugabe earlier this month, in the interim.

The committee also elected Mnangagwa the party’s presidential candidate for the 2018 general elections.

Mugabe did not refer to the sacking but said he was aware of the developments, purportedly ‘carried out by some elements claiming to act on behalf of the party.’

The 93-year-old Mugabe’s dismissal from the party had been expected but the willy grand old man of African politics appears to have pulled the rug from under his adversaries.

Despite taking control of the country, Zimbabwe’s military sought to have Mugabe removed through legal channels while confining him to his private residence.

It will be interesting to see what kind of relationship Mugabe will have with his ministers, most of whom took part in the central committee meeting that ‘fired’ him from the party.

Party spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo told journalists on Sunday that Mugabe, Africa’s oldest leader who always seemed to have an iron grip on the country in his 37-year rule, was removed from the position of President and first secretary of the party by a unanimous vote.

“Robert Mugabe should resign forthwith from the position of head of state and in the event that resignation would not have been tendered by midday Monday the ZANU-PF chief whip was ordered to institute proceedings for the removal of the President in terms of Section 97 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” he said.

Obert Mpofu, who chaired the meeting said the ‘party shall never again allow such undemocratic procedures in the conduct of its business’.

“We have seen democracy at play, the people have spoken. He has been our leader for a long time and we have all learnt from him. It is a sad page that he has to leave in such a manner. It is unfortunate that he had surrounded himself with a cabal bent on reversing the gains of our liberation struggle,” said Mpofu

Vice president Phelekezela Mphoko and Mugabe’s wife Grace were expelled also from the party.

Also expelled were Ignatius Chombo, Patrick Zhuwao, Jonathan Moyo, Kudzanai Chipanga, Paul Chimedza, Mandi Chimene, Walter Mzembi, Samuel and Letina Undenge.

Other members that were fired include Makhosini Hlongwane, Sandi Moyo, Anastacia Ndlovu, Tongai and Saviour Kasukuwere.

The committee also resolved that members of the party who were fired from the party subsequent to the 2014 congress be reinstated.

National broadcaster ZBC on Sunday said Mugabe, who has so far resisted pressure to quit, would meet military commanders on Sunday, along with a mediation team of a Catholic priest, the acting head of intelligence and Mugabe’s private secretary, George Charamba.

The leader of the influential veterans of the country’s war of liberation, Chris Mutsvangwa told Reuters as he walked into the extraordinary meeting of ZANU-PF’s central committee, Chris Mutsvangwa said Mugabe was running out of time to negotiate his departure and should leave the country while he could.

“We are going all the way,” Mutsvangwa said. “He’s trying to bargain for a dignified exit.” – Adelaide Moyo and Yeukai Musara also contributed to this report.