Defiant Mugabe digs in heels as ruling party moves to fire him

Top Stories

Defiant Mugabe digs in heels as ruling party moves to fire him
President Robert Mugabe delivers a speech during a graduation ceremony at the Zimbabwe Open University in Harare, where he presides as the Chancellor on Friday.

Harare - The president, who is 93, opened a graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe Open University in Harare

By Reuters

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Fri 17 Nov 2017, 9:04 PM

Last updated: Fri 17 Nov 2017, 11:33 PM

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe appeared in public on Friday for the first time since the army took charge, as the ruling party made plans to force him to step down after more than three decades in power.
The president, who is 93, opened a graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe Open University in Harare. He wore blue and yellow academic robes and a mortar board hat
and appeared to fall asleep in his chair as his eyes closed and his head lolled.
A senior member of the ZANU-PF ruling party said it wanted him gone. "If he becomes stubborn, we will arrange for him to be fired on Sunday," the source said. "When that is done, it's impeachment on Tuesday."
In contrast, the military said in a statement on national television it was "engaging" with Mugabe. It referred to him as Commander in Chief and said it would announce an outcome as soon as possible.
The ruling ZANU-PF party has called for a mass meeting in the capital on Saturday to show its support for the War Veterans group in their bid to remove Mugabe.
The army appears to want him to go quietly and allow a transition to Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose sacking last week as vice president triggered the takeover.
A goal of the generals is to prevent Mugabe handing power to his wife, Grace, who appeared on the cusp of power after Mnangagwa was pushed out.
Zimbabwe's official newspaper, the Herald, ran photographs late on Thursday showing Mugabe grinning and shaking hands with military chief General Constantino Chiwenga, who seized power this week.
The images stunned Zimbabweans who said it meant Mugabe was managing to hold out against Chiwenga's coup. Some political sources said he was trying to delay his departure until elections scheduled for next year. The ZANU-PF source said that was not the case. Anxious to avoid a protracted stalemate, party leaders were drawing up plans to dismiss Mugabe at the weekend if he refused to quit, the source said.
"There is no going back," the source said. "It's like a match
delayed by heavy rain, with the home side leading 90-0 in the 89th minute."
The army is camped on his doorstep. Grace Mugabe is under house arrest and her key political allies are in military custody.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday urged "a quick return to civilian rule" in Zimbabwe.
"Zimbabwe has an opportunity to set itself on a new path, one that must include democratic elections and respect for human rights," Tillerson told the foreign ministers from the African continent ahead of a meeting in Washington.
Botswana's President Ian Khama told him to resign.
"I don't think anyone should be President for that amount of time. We are Presidents. We are not monarchs. It's just common sense," Khama said.

More news from