Mugabe Passes Deadline to Resign 11/20 06:20
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Longtime President Robert Mugabe ignored a midday
deadline set by the ruling party to step down or face impeachment proceedings,
while Zimbabweans stunned by his lack of resignation during a national address
vowed more protests to make him leave.
"Arrogant Mugabe disregards Zanu PF," one newspaper headline said.
Opposition activists and the influential liberation war veterans association
announced more demonstrations to pressure the 93-year-old Mugabe, the world's
oldest head of state, to step down after 37 year in power.
"Your time is up," veterans association leader Chris Mutsvangwa said at a
press conference. "You should have the dignity and decency to spare the country
of further turmoil by simply announcing your departure immediately."
He also suggested that the military, even though it put Mugabe under house
arrest days ago, was still beholden to him and compelled to protect him because
he is officially their "commander in chief."
Zimbabweans were astonished that Mugabe, flanked by the military in his
national address Sunday night, remained defiant.
The war veterans' association will go to court to argue that Mugabe is
"derelict of his executive duty," Mutsvangwa said.
Some ruling party members said an impeachment process likely wouldn't lead
to Mugabe's immediate resignation and could take days to complete. Mugabe was
stripped of his party leadership on Sunday by the Central Committee of the
ruling ZANU-PF but said in his speech he would preside over a party congress
The congress is expected to ratify his firing as party chief, the expulsion
of the unpopular first lady and the naming of Mugabe's recently fired deputy to
Amid the confusion, some people in the capital, Harare, are now more
cautious about talking to reporters. That contrasts with the jubilation and
open condemnation of Mugabe over the weekend, when the bulk of Harare's
population of roughly 1.6 million appeared to be in the streets, dancing and
taking selfies with soldiers in an event backed by the military.
At the University of Zimbabwe on Monday, students protested and refused to
sit for exams, singing and demanding that Mugabe step down. The spokesman for
the Zimbabwe National Students Union, Zivai Mhetu, said they want all
universities shut down until he does.
Mugabe in his speech acknowledged "a whole range of concerns" of Zimbabweans
about the chaotic state of the government and its collapsed economy, but he
stopped short of what many in the southern African nation were hoping for --- a
statement that he was stepping down.
The once-formidable Mugabe is now a virtually powerless figure, making his
continued incumbency all the more unusual and extending Zimbabwe's political
limbo. He is largely confined to his private home by the military.
Yet the president sought to project authority in his speech, which he
delivered after shaking hands with security force commanders. The army
commander himself, whose threat to "step in" last week led to Mugabe's house
arrest, leaned over a couple of times to help the president find his place on
the page he was reading.
Mugabe has discussed his possible resignation on two occasions with military
commanders after they effectively took over the country on Tuesday. The
commanders were troubled by his firing of his longtime deputy and the
positioning of unpopular first lady Grace Mugabe to succeed him.
"I, as the president of Zimbabwe, 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 people,"
The deputy whom Mugabe fired, former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, is
positioned to become Zimbabwe's next leader after the party committee made him
its nominee to take over from Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from
white minority rule in 1980.
The military appears to favor a voluntary resignation to maintain a veneer
of legality in the political transition. Mugabe, in turn, is likely using
whatever leverage he has left to try to preserve his legacy or even protect
himself and his family from possible prosecution.