President Robert Mugabe has called a cabinet meeting Tuesday in Zimbabwe, following a weekend speech in which the 93-year-old leader was expected to resign – but then, he never did.
It’s the latest development in a confusing week that has seen the country’s military intervene and Mugabe’s own ruling Zanu PF party leaders call for him to step down. With his failure to do so, Zimbabwe political leaders are moving toward an impeachment process that begins as early as Wednesday, while others advocate a decision in December. The party said all MPs and senators were in a closed-door caucus late Monday, but it was believed that up to 50 Zanu PF officials have left the country amid the crisis. Several party members have been arrested.
What many in Zimbabwe are beginning to suspect is that the deeply divided Zanu PF party may not have the votes to remove Mugabe, and the president is pinning his hope to stay on the process outcome.
According to Zanu PF legal official Paul Mangwana, the motion to impeach would need 125 votes from Zanu PF and another 73 from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party aligned with Morgan Tsvangirai. The former prime minister has demanded Mugabe step down and make way for an inclusive transition process and reforms leading to “a free, fair and credible election.”
While the MDC-T votes may be there, the Zanu PF votes remain a question. Party members who support Grace Mugabe, the president’s wife who has made her own bid to succeed him, are likely to stall the impeachment proceedings. The Zanu PF said Sunday that Grace Mugabe and associates had taken advantage of Mugabe’s frailty and advanced years “to usurp his powers and to loot the country’s resources,” said The Herald, a state-owned media outlet in Zimbabwe. Their announcement followed a meeting Friday in which they agreed to demand the resignations of both Mugabes.
The Zanu PF leadership gave Mugabe until Monday to step down, but after his speech – and as the deadline passed – it was clear he wasn’t moving.