Zimbabwe: From military takeover to Mugabe's exit

Frederick Owens
November 22, 2017

Eight out of the ten provincial committees of Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party called on President Robert Mugabe to step down, the state broadcaster reported Friday.

The police have shown no resistance, while Chris Mutsvangwa, the leader of Zimbabwe's influential war veterans, said on Friday that Mugabe would not be allowed to resist the military and remain in power.

The resignation comes at the end of a week of extraordinary events that began with the military moving in last week, angered by Mugabe's firing of his longtime deputy and the positioning of the unpopular first lady to succeed him.

For many Africans, Mr. Mugabe continues to be the nationalist hero, this continent's final independence innovator plus a symbol of its battle to throw off this legacy involving decades with colonial subjugation.

Mugabe's 52-year-old wife Grace, who had harbored ambitions of succeeding her husband, was also expelled from ZANU-PF, along with at least three cabinet ministers who had formed the backbone of her "G40" political faction.

On Tuesday, tanks were seen outside Harare and in the early hours of Wednesday morning, an army spokesman appeared on state TV to declare that a military operation was under way.

It was not clear who would take over from Mugabe.

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South Africa says Mugabe has told its president, Jacob Zuma, by telephone that he is under house arrest but is "fine". In his absence, the Speaker of Parliament would ordinarily step in.

But in a live televised address, Mugabe defies expectations he will resign, instead saying he will preside over ZANU-PF's congress in December. Mnangagwa, who enjoys widespread support in the military, was widely believed to be in touch with senior generals behind the scenes.

Zanu-PF's Patrick Chinamasa could hardly finish his announcements as celebrations broke when he declared the official axing of Mugabe as party leader.

He has ruled the country for 37 years now.

It was a humiliating departure for Mugabe, who clung onto power for a week but eventually buckled to pressure.

"Mugabe is hereby recalled from the position of president and first secretary of Zanu-PF".

Mugabe rose to power as a freedom fighter and was once regarded as Zimbabwe's own Nelson Mandela, but he quickly waged a campaign of oppression to shore up his authority, extinguishing the political opposition through violent crackdowns.

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