IN what will remain as a defining epoch in Zimbabwe’s political history, the Zanu PF central committee yesterday kicked out President Robert Mugabe as its leader and immediately replaced him with axed Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Mnangagwa returns as Zanu PF’s first secretary and president two weeks after he was unceremoniously fired from both party and government, as the ruling party’s acrimonious struggle for power reached a climax before the military “stepped in” on Tuesday to “restore sanity”.
Party secretary for finance, Obert Mpofu, was given the unenviable task of chairing the special Zanu PF central committee indaba without Mugabe who had chaired all central committee meetings since the days of the liberation struggle, over 40 years ago.
“Just a week ago, nobody expected this to happen, but God has a way with things. It has happened and it is probably what Zimbabweans expected of us,” Mpofu said of Mugabe’s inglorious departure.
“It is sad that the President had to depart in this manner. His wife (First Lady Grace Mugabe) and close associates had taken advantage of his frailty to usurp executive authority and loot national resources. The people of Zimbabwe have spoken as was demonstrated yesterday (Saturday)”.
In resolutions read out by party secretary for legal affairs Patrick Chinamasa and repeated by spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo, Zanu PF stripped Mugabe to the bare bones and immediately indicated a seismic shift that includes the removal of the one centre of power principle.
“The unconstitutional removal and expulsion of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa be and is, hereby, nullified. Restore him to his position as a member of the central committee. Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe is recalled from the position of first secretary and president of the party forthwith,” Chinamasa said amid chants of “ngaaende ngaaende” (he (Mugabe) must go).
Mugabe, then Zanu secretary-general rose to power at the height of the liberation struggle in August 1977, following the death of founding national chairman Herbert Chitepo, the rejection by the guerillas of president Ndabaningi Sithole and the death in prison of vice-president Leopold Takawira between 1974 and 1975.
The President was yesterday given until midday today to tender his resignation failure of which he would be impeached by Parliament tomorrow.
“The central committee has directed that Cde Mugabe resigns from his position as Head of State and President of the country forthwith and if the resignation is not tendered by midday tomorrow (today) the Chief Whip (Lovemore Matuke) is directed to proceed with impeachment proceedings to remove the President in terms of Section 97 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” Chinamasa said.
MDC-T Mabvuku-Tafara lawmaker James Maridadi has already given notice to the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda of his intention to move a motion to have Mugabe 93, removed on the basis of old age. The central committee also resolved to replace Mugabe with Mnangagwa as State President.
“Cde Mnangagwa was elected president and first secretary of Zanu PF pending ratification by the extraordinary congress to be held in December. Cde Mnangagwa was nominated to fill in the vacancy of State President in terms of Part (IV) paragraph 14 of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No 20,” the resolutions read.
With Zanu PF under Mugabe having condemned Commander Defence Forces General Constantino Chiwenga for having threatened to intervene in Zanu PF’s internal matters, the central committee said the ruling party had expressed gratitude to the ZDF “for their intervention in the internal affairs of the party with a view to bringing normalcy to the party and government”.
Mugabe has been confined to his house since the military stormed the capital, took over State television and radio stations as well as disabled the police force on Wednesday last week in what the ZDF said was a move to “step in and restore sanity” as well as remove “criminal elements around the President”.