The message from Robert Mugabe’s own party seems to be … No more Mr. Nice Guy. Despite their best efforts to give the dictator a face-saving retirement after 37 years of dictatorial power, Mugabe double-crossed them in yesterday’s speech. Zanu-PF wants to move ahead with Emmerson Mnangagwa quickly enough to keep the popular unrest from creating a wider revolt against the Marxist party, so now the gloves are off:
Zimbabwe’s ruling party says it has instructed its chief whip to move ahead with impeachment proceedings against President Robert Mugabe.
The party also has formally notified Mugabe of his firing as party leader.
ZANU-PF party spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo says in a statement that Mugabe was notified Monday morning of the decisions taken by the party’s Central Committee a day earlier.
Mugabe has ignored a midday Monday deadline to resign, and the party says it will pursue impeachment when Parliament resumes Tuesday. A party official says Mugabe could be voted out on Wednesday.
The charges will be that Mugabe attempted to “usurp” power by cashiering Mnangagwa in an attempt to pass the reins to his wife Grace. Since Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party have had a stranglehold on authority since the 1980 revolution against colonialist rule in the former Rhodesia, the concept of usurpation seems rather quaint. Until yesterday, the Zanu-PF leadership wanted to avoid this confrontation, as did the military, which had been treating the 93-year-old war hero with so much deference that they allowed him to make a public appearance over the weekend during the coup.
Mugabe’s defiance continued today in other ways:
Zimbabwe’s longtime President Robert Mugabe has called a Cabinet meeting for Tuesday morning even as the ruling party moves to impeach him when Parliament resumes on the same day.
The notice from Mugabe’s chief secretary says the meeting will be at State House at 9 a.m. and all ministers “should attend.”
Hey. who’s up for a roll call at that Cabinet meeting? With the military surrounding Mugabe and his own party disavowing him, the only ministers who would dare show up should either be put on political suicide watch or in contact with travel agencies for a long, long voyage abroad. The over-under on attendees tomorrow morning will be two, and take the under.
At least the no-shows will allow Mugabe to stay abreast of his impeachment proceedings, which will begin at roughly the same time. Bloomberg’s panel discusses what comes next, and the short answer is the status quo sans Mugabe. He’ll direct the Zanu-PF party conference in his own mind while Mnangagwa attempts to provide continuity for Mugabe’s Marxist policies. When those fail, get ready for the next popular revolt, which might be fueled in part by a drop in the stock market, to which Zimbabweans fled as a shelter from runaway inflation. This might not be the end of military interventions in what had once been the breadbasket of Africa. It might just be the first of many.