Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Sunday defied his own ZANU-PF party and hundreds of thousands of protesters demanding his resignation by pledging in a television address to preside over the party’s next congress in December.
Two sources – one a senior member of the government, the other familiar with talks with leaders of the military – had told Reuters Mugabe would use the address to announce his resignation after ZANU-PF earlier sacked him as its leader in a step precipitated by an army takeover four days earlier.
But in the speech from his official residence, sitting alongside a row of generals, Mugabe acknowledged criticisms from ZANU-PF, the military and the public, but made no mention of his own position, instead pledging to preside over the ZANU-PF congress scheduled for next month.
ZANU-PF had given the 93-year-old, who led his country to indepndence in 1980, less than 24 hours to quit as head of state or face impeachment, an attempt to secure a peaceful end to his tenure after a de facto military coup.
The leader of Zimbabwe’s liberation war veterans said plans to impeach Mugabe would now go ahead.
Chris Mutsvangwa, who has been leading a campaign to oust Mugabe, told Reuters in a text message moments after Mugabe finished his speech that people would take to the streets of Harare on Wednesday.
It looks like President Robert Mugabe, 93, is going to stay on as Zimbabwe’s leader at least until the ruling Zanu-PF’s congress in December.
This is when official party positions are officially decided – and when Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was made Zanu-PF leader today, may officially take over leading the country. Reuters
Lance Guma on Twitter
“This is my take. #Mugabe had said he would resign and hence this broadcast was arranged. There was some haggling over the Generals wanting to see his speech in advance which explains the delay. Mugabe simply jumped the page where he was supposed to read the resignation. General Chiwenga tried to make him read it and Mugabe ignored him.”
Chris Mutsvangwa ( War Vets Chairman)
Chris Mutsvangwa, who has been leading a campaign to oust Mugabe, told Reuters in a text message moments after the speech that people would take to the streets of Harare on Wednesday. Mutsvangwa also tells told Reuters that plans for Mugabe’s impeachment will proceed.