Mugabe’s anticipated resignation did not happen as anticipated Sunday. He gave a rambling 20-minute speech witout touching on a possible resignation.
The anticipated resignation of Zimbabwe’s embattled president, Robert Mugabe, did not happen as anticipated Sunday.
The defiant nonagenerian refused to address the issue in a bizarre news conference in Harare Sunday, leaving his future as the nation’s President unclear.
The 93-year-old leader looked frail as he rambled through a 20-minute address on state-run TV, flanked by military leaders. The head scratching event left Zimbabwe and the world puzzled as the noticeably exacerbated Mugabe said “thank you and good night” without uttering a word of his widely expected resignation.
Mugabe in the address said he would preside over the ruling party’s congress in December, despite no longer leading the party.
Former VP, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is expected to take over leading Zimbabwe
The Zanu-PF earlier sacked Mugabe as party leader, and gave him less than 24 hours to resign as president or be impeached. Instead, Mugabe called for unity within the frayed leadership.
“I am aware that many developments have occurred in the party, or have been championed and done by individuals in the name of the party,” he said. “Given the failings of the past and the anger this might have triggered in some quarters, such developments are quite understandable.”
His grip on power has weakened since the military intervened on Wednesday, in a row over who should succeed him.
The crisis began when the 93-year-old president sacked his deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, two weeks ago, angering army commanders who saw it as an attempt to position his wife as his successor.
Mugabe rarely looked up from his prepared text, which focused on Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped economy and infighting within the ruling party ZANU-PF.
He often stumbled over his words, shuffled papers and remarked “oh that’s a long speech” near its end.
He acknowledged criticism against him from Zanu-PF, the military and public, and stressed the need to return Zimbabwe to normalcy.
“Whatever the pros and cons of how they (the army) went about their operation, I, as commander-in-chief, do acknowledge their concerns,” he said, in reference to the army’s move last week to take over the state broadcaster.
Commenting on Mugabe’s rearguard action opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he was “baffled” by the president’s address.
“He’s playing a game. He has let the whole nation down,” he told Reuters news agency.
Mugabe’s dogged determination not to f resign in the face of tens of thousands of party faithfuls who had joined huge demonstrations on Saturday, with many believing he was about to step down, also calls to question how he can preside over Zanu-PF’s congress next month, following his dismissal as party leader.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, it is anticipated, would officially take over leading the country then.
The influential War Veterans Association, which used to back Mr Mugabe but now demands his resignation, confirmed they would call for further protests.
“That speech has nothing to do with realities. We will go for impeachment and we are calling people back to the streets,” said Chris Mutsvangwa, the association’s leader told AFP.