PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has reportedly contacted fired Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is in self-imposed exile in South Africa, to break their impasse and possibly hand over power, NewsDay has learnt.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA/XOLISANI NCUBE
Zimbabwe Defence Forces ((ZDF) Commander General Constantino Chiwenga told journalists last night that the two protagonists had made contact in the last few days with Mnangagwa now expected back home shortly to finalise “their talks”.
“The Zimbabwe Defence and Security Services are encouraged by new developments which include contact between the President (Mugabe) and former Vice-President Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is expected in the country shortly. Thereafter the nation will be advised on the outcome of talks between the two,” Chiwenga said.
The ZDF chief was flanked by Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander Perrance Shiri, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services Commissioner-General Paradzai Zimondi and acting Central Intelligence Organisation head Aaron Nhepera.
Chiwenga added that the 93-year-old leader, who was recalled as Zanu PF leader on Sunday, “has started a process towards a definitive solution and roadmap for the country”.
On Sunday, the Zanu PF central committee met in the capital and recalled Mugabe, replacing him with Mnangagwa as party leader and presidential candidate for next year’s elections.
“As this happens, we as the ZDF and security services urge Zimbabweans to remain calm, and patient fully observing and respecting the laws of the country for the sustenance of the precious peace we should never lose. As your defence forces, we remain seized with the operation codenamed ‘Operation Restore Legacy’. We are confident to take our beloved country out of its present circumstances and set it on a desired development trajectory,” Chiwenga said.
His call came amid reports that several pressure groups including veterans of the liberation struggle were planning protest marches today to force Mugabe to resign. On Sunday, the Zanu PF central committee sat in a special session and resolved to recall Mugabe as the party’s first secretary and president. He was replaced by Mnangagwa.
Chiwenga urged political parties, war veterans, students and ordinary Zimbabweans to refrain from actions that threaten peace, life and property.
With students from the University of Zimbabwe in particular having refused to write examinations demanding Mugabe to step down, Chiwenga warned such actions were self-defeating.
“Students at the country’s various institutions are encouraged to be calm and to proceed with their educational programmes as scheduled. They need to remember that one day of education lost is difficult to recover,” he said.
Mugabe is also facing impeachment by Parliament today after he failed to comply with a Zanu PF central committee directive to resign by midday yesterday.
Buoyed by the massive turnout at their anti-Mugabe march in Harare on Saturday, war veterans have called another protest march today amid plans to eventually picket at the Zanu PF leader’s private residence as part of efforts to force him to step down.
This came as legislators have also scaled up preparations for Mugabe’s impeachment today.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) chairperson Chris Mutsvangwa confirmed today’s planned march.
“We are going back to the people and it is the people who have the say. Tomorrow (today), we are inviting everyone to come so that we remove that old man,” Mutsvangwa said, adding the sit-in would be at Mugabe’s Borrowdale mansion.
On Sunday, Mugabe, flanked by generals, assured an anxious nation that he would attend to concerns from both the military and generality of Zimbabweans who took to the streets of Harare and Bulawayo demanding that he goes.
Mutsvangwa alleged that Mugabe swapped speeches on Sunday and read a wrong one which did not indicate that he was stepping down.
In his address, Mugabe referred to “bitterness or revengefulness which would not make us any better”, calling on his supporters to be forgive each other.