Zimbabwe’s parliament begins process to impeach Mugabe

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 November, 2017, 10:36pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 November, 2017, 10:48pm

Zimbabwe’s ruling party has made a motion to impeach President Robert Mugabe and the opposition party MDC has seconded it.

It is not clear how long impeachment would take, though the ruling party has said it could vote Mugabe out as early as Wednesday.

South Africa’s state-run broadcaster said the presidents of South Africa and Angola will travel to Zimbabwe on Wednesday to meet “stakeholders” in the political crisis, including Mugabe and the military.

Mugabe should acknowledge the nation’s “insatiable desire” for a leadership change and resign immediately, the recently fired vice-president and likely successor to the 93-year-old leader said on Tuesday, as impeachment proceedings began against the world’s oldest head of state.

The statement by Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was dismissed earlier this month, added to immense pressure on Mugabe to quit after nearly four decades in power, during which he evolved from a champion of the fight against white minority rule into a figure blamed for a collapsing economy, government dysfunction and human rights violations.

The ruling ZANU-PF party began impeachment proceedings against Mugabe after its Central Committee voted to oust the president as party leader and select Mnangagwa as his replacement, a move that eventually could allow the former vice-president to become head of state. Mnangagwa served for decades as Mugabe’s enforcer, with a reputation for being astute and ruthless, more feared than popular.

“The people of Zimbabwe have spoken with one voice and it is my appeal to President Mugabe that he should take heed of this clarion call and resign forthwith so that the country can move forward and preserve his legacy,” Mnangagwa said.

Mnangagwa, who fled the country and has not appeared in public during the past week’s political turmoil, said Mugabe had invited him to return to Zimbabwe “for a discussion” on recent events.

However, he said he will not return for now, claiming there had been plans to kill him at the time of his firing.

Zimbabwe’s polarising first lady, Grace Mugabe, had been positioning herself to succeed her husband, leading a party faction that engineered Mnangagwa’s ouster. The prospect of a dynastic succession alarmed the military, which confined Mugabe to his home last week and targeted what it called “criminals” around him who allegedly were looting state resources – a reference to associates of the first lady.

The impeachment proceedings were beginning with the resumption of parliament on Tuesday, days after huge crowds surged through the capital, Harare, to demand that Mugabe quit. The ruling party instructed government ministers to boycott a cabinet meeting that Mugabe called for Tuesday morning at State House, the president’s official residence, and instead attend a meeting at party headquarters to work on the impeachment.

The ruling party said the charges for impeachment include that Mugabe “allowed his wife to usurp constitutional power” and that he is “of advanced age” and no longer has the physical capacity to run the government.

While the ruling party has said Mugabe could be voted out as early as Wednesday, some analysts believe the impeachment process could take weeks and would, if conducted properly, allow Mugabe to make a case in his defence.