WITH the whole world expecting President Robert Mugabe to announce his resignation, the veteran politician, who had been recalled by his Zanu PF party earlier in the day, last night indicated a process was now underway to soft land him out of power.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Reports indicated that Mugabe, who now remains State President, had cut a deal to resign with military generals a week after being confined to his private residence and hours after an extraordinary session of Zanu PF central committee resolved to recall him and demanded his resignation by mid-day today.
The operation also led to the detention of a host of senior party leaders linked to a faction of the ruling party known as G40.
“Today’s meeting with the command element has underscored for us to collectively start processes that return our nation to normalcy so all our people can go about their business unhindered,” Mugabe said.
Section 96 of the Constitution provides that the: “President may resign his or her office by written notice to the Speaker, who must give public notice of the resignation as soon as it is possible to do so and in any event within twenty-four hours”.
The President may also be removed from office through an impeachment process on the basis of “ (a) serious misconduct; (b) failure to obey, uphold or defend this Constitution; (c) wilful violation of this Constitution; or (d) inability to perform the functions of the office because of physical or mental incapacity; should be investigated in terms of this section”.
Zanu PF central committee demanded that Mugabe hands in his resignation today by mid-day or face impeachment. Opposition MP James Maridadi has also triggered a process to seek Mugabe’s removal from office.
The ailing 93-year-old leader admitted last night that the operation by the army that led to the arrest of a host of senior officials in Zanu PF and government as well as confining him to his house had been well founded.
“The operation mounted by Zimbabwe Defence Forces in the week that has gone by was triggered by concerns arising from their reading of the state of affairs in our country and the ruling Zanu PF party.
“Whatever the pro and cons of the way they went about registering those concerns, I as the President of Zimbabwe and as their commander-in-chief do acknowledge the issues they have drawn my attention to and do believe that these were raised in the spirit of honesty and out of deep patriotic concern for the welfare of our country,” Mugabe said.
Mugabe also acknowledged demands by citizens for him to step down following countrywide demonstrations on Saturday but came short of announcing his retirement. He also denied the military had staged a coup.
“The operation I have alluded to did not amount to a threat to our well-cherished constitutional order nor was it a challenge to my authority as Head of State and Government, not even as commander-in-chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces. The command element remained respectful and comported with the dictates and mores of constitutionalism,” he said, but added “a few incidences may have occurred here and there but these are being corrected”.
Mugabe added that his engagement with the security bosses had created a fresh “sense of collegiality and comradeship” binding the various arms of the security establishment.
He said factional fights in Zanu PF over his succession had reached unacceptable levels.
“. . . the lack of unity and commonness of purpose in both party and government was translating to a perception of inattentiveness to the economy. Open public spats between high-ranking officials in the party and government exacerbated by multiple conflicting messages from both party and government made the criticisms levelled against us inescapable. All this has to stop as we inaugurate a new work culture,” the former Zanu PF leader said.
Mugabe also accepted the importance of war veterans to Zanu PF after a fall-out with the former fighters over succession and admitted that the party was failing in its rules and procedures but argued retribution would not resolve issues.
“The way forward thus cannot be based on swapping via cliques that ride roughshod over party rules and procedures. There has to be a net return to the guiding principles of our party as enshrined in its constitution which must apply fairly and equitably in all situations and before all members. The era of victimisation and arbitrary decisions must be put behind as we all embrace a new ethos predicated on the supreme law of our party,” he said.
Mugabe called for inter-generational conflict to be resolved through a clear succession plan.
“All these matters will be discussed and settled at the forthcoming congress within the framework of a clear roadmap that seeks to resolve once and for all any contradictions and omissions that have affected our party,” he said.
Mugabe declared he would preside over the congress processes “which must not be pre-possessed by any acts calculated to undermine it or to compromise the outcomes in the eyes of the public”.
“Given the failings of the past and the anger these might have triggered in some quarters such developments are quite understandable. However we cannot be guided by bitterness or vengefulness both of which will not make us any better party members or any better Zimbabweans,” Mugabe said, calling for reconciliation and forgiveness.