The world waits to see what happens next after the military took over Zimbabwe and after 93-year-old leader President Robert Mugabe refused to resign despite pressure from the army and the ruling Zanu-PF party.
Mugabe has confounded his critics by staying in power for so long. Sometimes dismissed as a cartoon figure abroad, he was viewed in Zimbabwe, at least originally, as a revolutionary hero who fought against white minority rule, and still enjoys respect as the “father of the nation”.
But Robert Mugabe and his supporters have used violence to keep a tight grip on power, using the machinery of the state to bolster his party and himself. His party says it is fighting capitalism and colonialism, but the country’s economic problems have tested even his most ardent supporters. He has often said he would only step down when his “revolution” was complete, but also wants to handpick his successor – something that led to the current crisis.
His unpopular wife caused the downfall of once respected Robert Mugabe. Also Grace aged 93 and in visible decline, the battle to succeed him intensified in recent months.
The ruling party split into two factions – one backing his wife Grace, 40 years his junior, and the other his long-time ally, Emmerson Mnangagwa. When he sacked Mnangagwa, it was obvious that he was backing his wife to take power. She was deeply unpopular, partly because of her love of shopping, which led to her nickname “Gucci Grace”. Mnangagwa fought in the 1970s war of independence which brought Mugabe to power and retains close ties with many other former comrades, who occupy senior positions across the top of all of Zimbabwe’s security forces. So when he was ousted, they intervened on his behalf.
The military certainly intervened, however they have not replaced the president – yet. In a statement on television, the military said it had temporarily taken control to “target criminals” around the head of state, not Mugabe himself, and still referred to him as “commander-in-chief”.
The army wants a veneer of constitutionality to be preserved, and certainly none of his former comrades wants to arrest him, or worse, as often happens to leaders when the military takes over.
The army wants a political process to play out – Mr Mugabe to resign and Zanu-PF to name a new leader. And the military encouraged a public march to increase pressure on him, and show that their actions had the popular support.
So far, however, he is refusing to play ball, even though the ruling Zanu-PF party has sacked him as its leader, and so parliament may have to impeach him. However, on Sunday, Mugabe vowed to remain as president until the Zanu-PF congress, due in December, so it is far from clear what happens next.
If the ousted Mnangagwa does succeed Mugabe as president, he is cut from the same cloth. He has featured prominently in all of the atrocities and attacks on opposition supporters which have been carried out since Mugabe came to power. However, he has hinted that he may introduce some economic reforms, and even work with the opposition in some form of transitional government.
Zimbabwe has gone from one economic crisis to another over the last decade. Estimates of the country’s unemployment levels vary, but the country’s biggest trade union claims the jobless rate was as high as 90% earlier this year.
Zimbabwe has struggled with hyperinflation, which peaked in 2008 with an official rate of 231 million per cent. The country was forced to abandon its own currency at a rate of Z$35 quadrillion to US$1, adopting the use of foreign cash.
People with money stored electronically in banks are unable to access it, or are subject to strict limits on what they can withdraw. Because of this, crypto-currencies that are traded online have risen in popularity. Following the news of the military takeover, Bitcoin prices in Harare surged on Wednesday.
Because of a continuing chronic shortage of hard money, the government issued their own version of dollars called bond notes, but they have rapidly lost their value.
The party of Zimbabwe’s embattled President Robert Mugabe is to begin moves to impeach him. A Zanu-PF official said a motion to strip him of the presidency would be presented to parliament on Tuesday, and the process could take just two days.
The motion accuses the 93-year-old of charges including allowing his wife Grace to “usurp constitutional power”. Military leaders, who last week intervened, said Mugabe would meet his exiled former vice-president soon.
Votes are expected to be held in both the National Assembly and the Senate – Zimbabwe’s two parliamentary houses – on whether to begin impeachment proceedings.
If they pass by a simple majority, a joint committee from both chambers will be appointed to investigate removing the president. Then, if the committee recommends impeachment, the president can then be removed if both houses back it with two-thirds majorities.
Emmerson Mnangagwa fled Zimbabwe after Mugabe stripped him of his position, seen by many as a way clearing the way for his wife to succeed him as leader. The move riled top army officials, who stepped in and put Mugabe under house arrest, though he nominally remains the president.
The military said they have planned a “roadmap” with Mugabe for the future. On Sunday, despite intense pressure Mugabe surprised many by refusing to resign, instead in a TV speech vowing to preside over next month’s Zanu-PF party congress.
Impeachment proceedings are set to go ahead after a deadline set by the party for Mugabe to stand down came and went. Speaking outside a party meeting on Monday, Member of Parliament Paul Mangwana said of the president: “He is a stubborn man, he can hear the voices of the people, but is refusing to listen.” Impeachment in Zimbabwe can only occur in specific scenarios, on grounds of “serious misconduct”, “violation” of the constitution or “failure to obey, uphold or defend” it, or “incapacity”. “The main charge is that he has allowed his wife to usurp constitutional power when she has no right to run government. But she is insulting civil servants, the vice president, at public rallies. They are denigrating the army – those are the charges,” Mangwana said. “He has refused to implement the constitution of Zimbabwe – particularly we had elections for the provincial councils, but up to now they have not been put into office.
He added that the process – which some experts had thought would be lengthy – could be fast-tracked and completed by Wednesday, “because the charges are so clear”.
The opposition has tried and failed to remove Mr Mugabe using this process in the past. But now that the president has lost the support of his own ruling party and its overwhelming majority in both houses, reaching a two-thirds majority is achievable.
The vice-president would then take over Mugabe’s position. The military, which supports Mnangagwa, would like to see him step into that role. But when he was removed from office, Phelekezela Mphoko – a known supporter of Grace Mugabe – became vice-president, and in theory would assume the presidential role.
It is not clear if Mnangagwa could be restored to his former position, and military leaders simply said the public would “be advised on the outcome of talks” between Mugabe and his former deputy.
Clearly, people generally want Robert Mugabe who failed the economy of the nation, to go. Will Robert Mugabe quit the post and politics and begin a retired life by fiving his valuable counsel to the new regime?
Interestingly, the rulers are eager to be the permanent owners of the nation. Their lust for power and craw for ability to cling on to power by crook as long as they can makes corruption rampant at all levels in the country.
Syrian president want to be the president for ever. He does not care if Syria is destroyed in order to protect his selfish interests.
Robert Mugabe is eager to make his wife the next president so that he could continue to rule through her.
That is the problem with most rulers. Some countries like USA and Russia gave stipulated the number of years and terms one can rule.
Why not the UN debate the issue for suitable recommendations on the length of rule of presidents and prime ministers and the terms they can enjoy “serving” the respective nation. .
Uniformity could help the nations to pick the right rulers through proper polls.
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