Tue, Nov 21, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Deadline passes without resignation by Mugabe

DEFIANCE:Zimbabwe struggled yesterday to respond to the president’s refusal to quit, as the ruling party began drafting a motion of impeachment against him

AFP, HARARE

University of Zimbabwe students take part in a demonstration yesterday in Harare to demand that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe resign and the withdrawal of first lady Grace Mugabe’s doctorate.

Photo: AFP

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe yesterday faced the prospect of impeachment after going on Zimbabwe TV on Sunday night to assert his control despite the military takeover and his party’s vow to force him out.

In a televised address, the 93-year-old veteran leader defied expectations he would quit, pitching the country into a second week of political crisis.

The speech provoked anger and disbelief among many Zimbabweans, fueling concerns that Mugabe could face a violent backlash.

His once-loyal ZANU-PF party — which had sacked him on Sunday and told him to resign as head of state — had warned it would seek to impeach him if he failed to quit by midday yesterday.

Mugabe is a “source of instability,” has shown disrespect for the rule of law and is to blame for an unprecedented economic tailspin over the past 15 years, the party said yesterday in a draft impeachment motion.

The army said it would make a statement in response to the crisis triggered by Mugabe’s refusal to go.

Mugabe’s speech capped an extraordinary weekend that saw Zimbabweans celebrate and vent their anger in ways that would have been brutally repressed just a week ago, but their joy quickly turned to despair as Mugabe brushed aside the turmoil, blithely declaring he would chair a top-level meeting of the party that had just disavowed him.

Hundreds of noisy demonstrators gathered yesterday at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare to call for Mugabe to stand down.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change, called Mugabe’s speech a “complete reversal of the people’s expectations.”

“The so-called negotiation with the army did not produce the dignified exit that the nation was expecting,” he said.

Chris Mutsvangwa, head of the influential war veterans’ association, called for less restrained protests than those staged at the weekend in an effort to dislodge Mugabe.

“This time there will be a sit-in. We are not going to be leaving Harare until this guy is gone,” he said yesterday, as he also threatened legal action against the president. “He’s lost his marbles.”

“Arrogant Mugabe disregards ZANU-PF,” screamed the front page of the Daily News.

Impeaching Mugabe, who is the only leader most Zimbabweans have ever known, would require a two-thirds supermajority in both houses of Zimbabwe’s parliament which is due to resume today.

Though Mugabe has struggled with public speaking in recent years, he appeared alert and attentive as he delivered his address.

He also made no reference to the hostile chorus calling for him to go.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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