Saturday 22 September 2018

Mugabe told his fate is sealed with deal done

A screengrab from Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) yesterday shows Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (2R) as he poses alongside Defence Forces Commander General Constantino Chiwenga (R) and South African envoys at State House in Harare. Photo: AFP/Getty
A screengrab from Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) yesterday shows Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (2R) as he poses alongside Defence Forces Commander General Constantino Chiwenga (R) and South African envoys at State House in Harare. Photo: AFP/Getty

Peta Thornycraft and Roland Oliphant Harare

Robert Mugabe was last night believed to be on the verge of resignation after he was presented with plans to unseat him via a vote of no confidence in Zimbabwe's parliament, sources in Harare said.

Senior sources in the Zimbabwean military and the Movement for Democratic Change, the main opposition party, told 'The Daily Telegraph' that preparations had been made for the vote of no confidence to end the president's 37-year rule in the country's parliament as early as Monday.

The parliamentary motion, which would see opposition members voting alongside dissenting members of the ruling Zanu-PF party, would require a simple majority to pass.

Mr Mugabe, 93, has defied calls to resign since the country's military arrested him and his family on Tuesday night in a coup designed to prevent his wife, Grace Mugabe, from succeeding him as president.

Grace Mugabe. Photo: AP
Grace Mugabe. Photo: AP

His fate was sealed yesterday after many of his supporters in G40, the faction within the ruling party which supported Mrs Mugabe's bid for power, deserted him out of fear of the military and a recognition that broad swathes of the public were already celebrating his pending departure.

Mr Mugabe spent much of yesterday afternoon locked in talks with senior military officers and envoys from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the regional bloc, at State House, his official residence in Harare.

Photographs later emerged of Gen Constantino Chiwenga, the head of the armed forces and the executor of the coup, warmly shaking the president by the hand.

Two envoys sent from SADC via Jacob Zuma, the South African president, returned to South Africa late yesterday, apparently satisfied that Mr Mugabe was willing to leave office of his own accord, avoiding an unconstitutional seizure of power.

A military vehicle is seen on a street in Harare, yesterday. Photo: AP
A military vehicle is seen on a street in Harare, yesterday. Photo: AP

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC and who shared power with Mugabe between 2009 and 2013, added his voice to those calling on him to step aside.

"In the interest of the people of Zimbabwe, Mr Robert Mugabe must resign," he said in Harare.

Mr Tsvangirai, who returned early yesterday from South Africa, where he is being treated for cancer, said there should be a transitional period, possibly involving a government of national unity after Mr Mugabe leaves office.

He also said he had not been approached to be part of any transitional mechanism but "if we are approached to negotiate such a process we will participate".

Sources close to the military said that they believed Mr Mugabe had resolved to step aside after he learnt of plans to unseat him in parliament.

The same sources said that Mr Mugabe was shocked to discover how many people wanted him to leave, and was waiting on a promise of safe passage for Mrs Mugabe and other members of his family before accepting the fait accompli.

Singapore, where Mr Mugabe often goes for medical treatment, is one possible exile destination.

'The Daily Telegraph' understands Paul Mangwana, the Zimbabwean military's chief lawyer, and Douglas Mwonzora, the chief legal counsel for the MDC, were due to meet to discuss details of the plan last night.

It is believed the vote will be timed before Phelekezela Mphoko, the vice president, can return from an official visit to Japan and step in as acting president.

Jacob Mudenda, the speaker of the House, could appoint a new vice president when Mr Mugabe leaves office.

Mr Mudenda is a supporter of Emmerson Mnangagwa, the recently sacked vice president, and the man who is believed to be the military's preferred candidate.

It was his dismissal, after 40 years of service to Mr Mugabe, which sparked the military action.

Irish Independent

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