NOV. 19, 2017
President Robert Mugabe’s own party voted to oust him as its leader on Sunday, a day after thousands of Zimbabweans took to the streets to celebrate his stunning fall from power after a military takeover.
The governing ZANU-PF party, which held emergency talks at its headquarters in the capital, Harare, to consider the fate of the president who had ruled for 37 years, appointed the previously fired vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, as Mr. Mugabe’s successor.
Under the Constitution, Mr. Mugabe remains president, even if in name only. But if he does not resign by noon Monday, the committee members decided, he would face impeachment by Parliament.
Cheers and dancing broke out in the building after the vote, according to video shared on social media.
Before the committee’s decision, Chris Mutsvangwa, a war veteran who has led the campaign to oust Mr. Mugabe, said as he went into the meeting, “We are going all the way,” according to Reuters.
The central committee also expelled the president’s wife, Grace Mugabe, as head of the ZANU-PF Women’s League. Mrs. Mugabe, widely viewed as his likely successor, has not been seen in public since Wednesday.
On Sunday, she was barred from the party for life, along with several other government officials — including Jonathan Moyo, the minister of higher and tertiary education.Photo
The downfall of the 93-year-old autocratic ruler began with a military takeover on Wednesday. Once respected as a liberation icon who went into exile after fighting colonial rule, Mr. Mugabe became isolated from fellow party officials.
Other veterans of the fight for independence from white-minority rule joined the march on Saturday as Zimbabweans poured into the streets and danced, sang and shouted with joy at the prospect of Mr. Mugabe’s rule ending.
After voting to fire Mr. Mugabe as party leader, the party committee took up the matter of impeachment.
Innocent Gonese, the parliamentary chief whip from the Movement for Democratic Change — Tsvangirai party, told The A.P. that when Parliament resumed this week, the chamber would “definitely” put in motion a process to impeach Mr. Mugabe.
Mr. Mugabe was also meeting on Sunday for a second round of talks with the army commander Constantino Chiwenga, who had placed the president under house arrest. The military, seeking to deflect claims of a coup, said that the action was aimed at rounding up ZANU-PF officials implicated in economic crimes that have ravaged the economy of the southern African nation.
Mr. Mugabe, who has resisted stepping down, was seeking to negotiate a dignified departure, the Zimbabwe state-run broadcaster said.
The youth league of Zimbabwe’s ruling party said Mr. Mugabe should resign and take a rest as an “elder statesman,” while his wife should be expelled from the party “forever,” The Associated Press reported.Photo
The league leader, Yeukai Simbanegavi, praised the military on Sunday for moving against what she described as a group of “criminals” led by Mrs. Mugabe, The A.P. said.
“It is unfortunate that the president allowed her to usurp executive authority from him, thereby destroying both the party and the government,” she said.
A majority of the party’s leaders had recommended expelling Mr. Mugabe — a harsh rebuke of the man who had controlled the organization with an iron grip since the country gained independence in 1980.
In a resolution, party leaders said Mr. Mugabe should be removed for taking the advice of “counterrevolutionaries and agents of neo-imperialism”; for mistreating his vice president, Mr. Mnangagwa, whom Mr. Mugabe abruptly dismissed; and for encouraging “factionalism.”
It urged the “immediate and unconditional reinstatement” of Mr. Mnangagwa, at least until the national elections that are scheduled for next year.
On Sunday, the leaders put force behind their recommendations, ousting Mr. Mugabe and setting up the vice president to succeed him.
But the fired vice president also has critics, who accuse him of being politically ruthless and of plotting to form parallel institutions within the governing party. Mr. Mnangagwa is unpopular in parts of the country: He lost his parliamentary seat at least twice, once after he was accused of firebombing his opponent’s house, according to an editor of The Zimbabwean newspaper.
The political crisis will be on the agenda for a summit meeting in Angola on Tuesday of four countries in the southern African regional bloc: South Africa, which sent envoys to negotiate with Mr. Mugabe on a departure; and Angola, Tanzania and Zambia.