Impeachment on the cards

Robert Mugabe in talks to surrender power

The Times by Aislinn Laing, Harare

November 21 2017

Robert Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) party resolved to bring a motion in parliament today to impeach him ASSOCIATED PRESS

Robert Mugabe and his sacked vice-president are negotiating a handover of power amid fears that the prolonged impasse could spark civil unrest.

Emmerson Mnangagwa is due to return to Zimbabwe after fleeing into exile abroad when he was sacked, and a deal between the two men will be announced “shortly”, the armed force commander who seized power last week said.

Constantine Chiwenga, who mounted the coup last Tuesday to quell political wrangling sparked by a succession battle between Mr Mnangagwa and Mr Mugabe’s wife Grace, called on Zimbabweans to remain “calm and be patient”.

Tyrant’s rambling speech

“The security services are encouraged by new developments which include contact between the president and the former vice-president, comrade Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, who is expected in the country shortly,” General Chiwenga said.

“Thereafter, the nation will be advised of the outcome of talks between the two.

“The Zimbabwean defence and security services further urge Zimbabweans to remain calm and patient” while a “solution and road map is found for the country”.

The terse statement came after Mr Mugabe caused confusion when, in a televised broadcast on Sunday night during which he had been expected to announce his resignation, he vowed instead to redouble efforts to sort out “concerns” among his people.

Some sources claim that Mr Mugabe had at the last minute swapped an agreed resignation speech for one he drafted himself. Others suggested that the generals knew Mr Mugabe would affirm only that their coup was within constitutional bounds.

The political wrangling came as it was confirmed that a senior armed forces commander had been detained after allegations that he had been assembling a militia and plotting an insurrection to keep Mr Mugabe in power. Major-General Douglas Nyikayaramba* was the chief of administration staff for the army.

Earlier, the ruling Zanu (PF) party resolved to bring a motion in parliament today to impeach Mr Mugabe, after a noon deadline expired for him to resign and bring the curtain down on nearly four decades in power.

Impeachment could see Mr Mugabe kicked out in days, bringing an ignominious end to the career of the world’s oldest leader, once lauded as an anti-colonial hero.

In the draft motion, the party accused Mr Mugabe of being a “source of instability”, flouting the rule of law and presiding over an “unprecedented economic tailspin” in the past 15 years.

It also said he had abused his constitutional mandate to favour Mrs Mugabe, 52, whose tilt at power triggered a backlash from the army that brought troops on to the streets of the capital last week. Mr Mnangagwa’s removal was meant to boost her chances of succeeding her husband.

On paper, the impeachment process is long-winded, involving a joint sitting of the senate and national assembly, a nine-member committee of senators, then another joint sitting to confirm his dismissal with a two-thirds majority.

However, constitutional experts said Zanu (PF), in a revolt against Mr Mugabe, could push it through quickly.

“They can fast-track it. It can be done in a matter of a day,” said John Makamure, executive director of the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust.

However, last night the army’s claims of a negotiated exit arranged between Mr Mnangagwa and Mr Mugabe threw into question whether the impeachment proceedings would happen or whether Mr Mugabe would instead hand over to his former deputy and ally at the party’s December congress.

Zimbabwe’s association of war veterans, which is close to the military, said the generals were in an awkward position because their role required them to protect Mr Mugabe from protesters. The army should step back and let parliament and, if necessary, demonstrators, remove the leader, said Chris Mutsvangwa, head of the veterans.  

*For more information on Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba and his promotion and posting prior to the 2013 elections: