Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe missed the weekend deadline set for his resignation, so his Zanu-PF party filed a draft impeachment motion on Monday. The impeachment process could begin as early as Tuesday morning.
Mugabe, who has been in power for forty years and is now 93 years old, unexpectedly failed to announce his resignation during an address to the nation on Sunday night. The military veterans who have proven among the most adamant voices calling for Mugabe’s departure accused him of swapping out his resignation speech at the last minute to give what the UK Guardian describes as a “rambling address” that “offered no substantial concessions to his critics.”
He did offer to preside over an upcoming special congress of the Zanu-PF party, which would be awkward since the party kicked him out on Sunday. They were not subtle about it, either. Mugabe was given an ultimatum by some 200 top party officials to resign his presidency by Monday morning.
“The speech was just surprising. It is not in line with what we expected. We had understood that his resignation was coming to avoid the embarrassment of impeachment,” Zanu-PF leader Lovemore Matuke said.
“The army is taking its own route and, as politicians, we are taking our own route, but the ultimate goal is to make sure he goes, which he should have done tonight,” Matuke said after Mugabe’s bizarre speech on Sunday.
“I am baffled. It’s not just me, it is the whole nation,” said opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai after the speech.
After sacking Mugabe as leader, Zanu-PF announced its interim leader would be former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was Mugabe’s heir apparent before the elderly dictator kicked him to the curb and declared his widely hated 52-year-old wife Grace would succeed him instead. Grace Mugabe’s power struggle with the army ended when she realized that her impressive collection of designer clothing was no match for their even more impressive collection of tanks and guns.
Reuters reports that Mugabe has been in touch with Mnangagwa. Coup leader General Constantino Chiwenga told a news conference on Monday that Mnangagwa would soon return to Zimbabwe to help ease Mugabe out of office. According to Reuters’ sources, Mugabe may actually have made a deal to resign in exchange for immunity for himself and his wife, but did not want to depart so soon after the military takeover because pains have been taken to make it look like something less than a coup.
This might not be merely a matter of appearances. One of the theories about Mugabe’s odd behavior is that he wants to provoke the army to forcibly remove him from office to trigger an intervention by other African nations, and possibly even international bodies like the United Nations.
Reuters mentions in passing that one of Robert Mugabe’s most remarkable achievements in office was an inflation rate of five hundred billion percent in 2008. The Zanu-PF impeachment bill blames him for causing an “unprecedented economic tailspin.”
“What is clear is that everyone here believes that the Mugabe era is over. Saturday’s protests unleashed something and people believe that a line has been crossed. Now it is really about negotiating the time, the process, the choreography of Mr. Mugabe’s departure,” writes the BBC, referring to the massive weekend protests in the capital city of Harare.
“The fear of Zanu-PF and of the security services will not go away overnight. People here grew up with that fear. In the meantime, the streets are calm, but Tuesday may bring more demonstrations,” the BBC adds.