Zimbabwe’s former vice-president tells Mugabe to go

21 November 2017 - 10:56 By Ray Ndlovu
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe with his former deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, with whom he once shared an extremely close relationship. File photo.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe with his former deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, with whom he once shared an extremely close relationship. File photo.
Image: Reuters

Zimbabwe’s former vice-president‚ Emmerson Mnangagwa‚ on Tuesday morning rejected overtures from his former boss‚ President Robert Mugabe‚ to hold a meeting with him in order to discuss the present crisis engulfing the country.

Instead‚ Mnangagwa said he would only return to the country when there was a guarantee of his security by the defence force and Zanu-PF‚ and urged that Mugabe respect the will of the people by stepping down.

“To me‚ the voice of the people is the voice of God‚ and their lack of trust and confidence in the leadership of President Mugabe has been expressed. Several groups including students‚ general workers‚ opposition party members‚ vendors‚ religious organisations and ordinary citizens led by our war veterans‚ our party members in Zanu-PF‚ civic society‚ and all races‚ colours and creeds in Zimbabwe clearly demonstrated without violence their insatiable desire to have the resignation of His Excellency‚ Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe‚” he said.

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Mnangagwa said by stepping down‚ Mugabe would at least move “the country forward and preserve his legacy”. He said in a telephone conversation with Mugabe‚ he had told the president that there were only two options available to him.

“That is to cooperate in the current negotiations with comrades from the defence forces for a peaceful resolution of this crisis‚ which would result in the preservation of his legacy. [Or]‚ if he continues to dig in‚ in defiance of the will of the people‚ he might suffer humiliation‚ because definitely the will of the people will prevail against one person.

“He requested me to come to State House‚ and l replied that l was out of the country‚ and that he had already removed my status as the vice-president of the country. As such I had no status. However‚ l can only come at the invitation of my colleagues in the party and of the defence forces‚ when they feel that my security is guaranteed.”

Mugabe today faces yet another stern test to his rule‚ as Zimbabwe’s parliament reconvenes today after a two-week break. The ruling Zanu-PF is expected to table a motion of impeachment.

Zanu-PF last night said at least 230 of its 260 MPs had said they would vote in support of the motion to impeach Mugabe.

Mnangagwa said he was aware that parliament intends to impeach the Mugabe and supported the move.

“Parliament is the ultimate expression of the will of the people outside an election‚ and in my view is expressing national sentiment by implementing the impeachment proceedings. Therefore‚ talks between myself and the president cannot supersede the expression and fundamental rights of fellow Zimbabweans‚” he said.

The dismissal of Mugabe from the helm of Zanu-PF on Sunday was a dramatic turn of events‚ which resurrected the political star of Mnangagwa‚ his former deputy and one-time ally.

Until his recall by the Zanu-PF central committee to lead the party‚ it had seemed that 75-year-old Mnangagwa had been relegated to a political wilderness for the second time in 13 years.

Back in 2004‚ Mnangagwa seemed assured of being Mugabe’s anointed successor‚ but lost out at the 11th hour‚ when a clause was introduced compelling the party’s presidium to include a female candidate.

As a result‚ Mnangagwa lost the post to Joice Mujuru‚ widow of the late Solomon Mujuru‚ Zimbabwe’s first army commander.

Earlier this month‚ Mugabe fired Mnangagwa from government and the party for “disloyalty and deceit”‚ amid claims by Mugabe that his deputy had been plotting to remove him from office using witchcraft.

Patrick Chinamasa‚ the Zanu-PF legal affairs secretary‚ on Sunday said the central committee had resolved to reinstate Mnangagwa into the party and nullify his expulsion.

“The central committee has appointed E. D. Mnangagwa in the interim as the first secretary of Zanu-PF‚ pending ratification by the extraordinary congress on the 12th to 17th of next month‚” Chinamasa said.

Chris Mutsvangwa‚ chairman of the war veterans’ association that has openly backed Mnangagwa‚ said he was a senior figure who commanded the respect of the military‚ war veterans and the nation at large.

“We have looked at the persons who are there‚ and we feel that [Mnangagwa] needs to be given a chance as well‚” Mutsvangwa said.