Robert Mugabe, in a defiant national broadcast, vowed to continue as president of Zimbabwe after pressure from the military and the ruling party to step down. This followed his sacking as leader of the ruling party, Zanu-PF. Mugabe was given until noon to resign or face impeachment according to the Guardian. He addressed the nation on Sunday refusing to step down as president after 37 years, according to the BBC.
The Zanu-PF appointed former Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the new leader of the ruling party. Emmerson Mnangagwa was removed from office on November 6, 2017, by Robert Mugabe due to pressure from his wife Grace Mugabe. Emmerson Mnangagwa has been in competition with Grace Mugabe as the outgoing President’s successor. However, Mugabe’s refusal only buys him more time as impeachment proceedings take effect.
Robert Mugabe is the oldest serving leader in Africa at 93-years old. He has ruled Zimbabwe since 1987, leading the African nation through economic hardship. He has also been accused of various human rights abuses by the United Nations. Mugabe has been at odds with the west, especially the U.S. and the U.K. In 2000, Mugabe pushed for constitutional reforms that led to the seizure of land from white farmers. Their lands were seized without compensation and he demanded the British government make payments instead.
The seizure of lands from the white owners affected the Zimbabwean economy adversely, leading to a decline in agricultural production and food shortages in Zimbabwe. Inflation and unemployment increased leaving the nation vulnerable to diseases like cholera. An attempt to impeach Robert Mugabe in 2000 was unsuccessful, but the current attempt to oust the leader seems to have been finalized.
Events leading to the removal of Robert Mugabe as president was made possible by the military coup on November 14 – the military thwarted an attempt to declare his wife president. Grace Mugabe and other senior officials of the government have been expelled from the party. Thousands of Zimbabweans occupied the streets in protest on Saturday against the longtime ruler and his family.
In anticipation of his resignation speech on Sunday, thousands of Zimbabweans sang and danced on the streets of Harare. However, the jubilation was short-lived as the strong man refused to step down as expected in the national broadcast.
Earlier, there was confusion in the State House in Harare when Mugabe refused to show his speech to the military. In his speech on national Television, Mugabe showed no signs of handing over. Mugabe has been under house arrest since November 14, and has been in negotiation with the military. His resignation as president has been imminent since the military take-over five days ago. There is no going back this time, Mugabe will be removed soon.
[Featured Image by Jack Taylor/Getty Images]