Robert Mugabe Defies ZANU-PF, Vows to Cling to Power
Zimbabwe’s embattled leader Robert Mugabe has defied mounting calls for him to stand down and vowed to stay in power for the near future.
This was revealed in an extraordinary TV address Sunday night, in which Mr Mugabe said he would preside over the ruling ZANU-PF’s congress in December.
In a series of events leading to Sunday’s address, Zanu-PF had sacked him as party leader, and gave him less than 24 hours to resign as president or be impeached on resumption of parliament Tuesday.
But as crowds gathered outside the capital Harare and elsewhere in anticipation of his resignation, the 93-year-old stunned his countrymen, and the world, by vowing to remain as president.
Flanked by military generals, Mugabe said “the [ruling Zanu-PF] party congress is due in a few weeks and I will preside over its processes”.
He however acknowledged criticism from Zanu-PF, the military and public, and stressed the need to return Zimbabwe to normality.
“Whatever the pros and cons of how they [the army] went about their operation, I, as commander-in-chief, do acknowledge their concerns,” he said, in reference to the army’s move last week that has considerably weakened his hold on power.
In the halting, 20-minute address, Mugabe completely ignored the deafening calls, from the public and from his own party, to resign as president.
He rather declared that the military had done nothing wrong, by seizing power, and placing him under house arrest earlier in the week, noting that there were failings, and factionalism in the government and party.
This leaves the country on a cliff ahead of ZANU-PF’s deadline for impeachment, prolonging an already dangerous leadership standoff.
The leader of the opposition MDC-T party, Morgan Tsvangirai, who had tried unsuccessfully to impeach Mr Mugabe in the past, said he was “baffled” by the president’s address.
“He’s playing a game. He has let the whole nation down,” he said.
The coming days will prove crucial for the ravaged southern African nation.
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