Newswire : New Zimbabwe President pays tribute to ousted leader

President Mugabe greets Vice President Mnangagwa as he arrives for Zimbabwe's Heroes Day commemorations in Harare
President E. D. Mnangagwe of Zimbabwe

Nov. 27, 2017 (GIN) –Unlike the violent upsets in Gambia, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso, the military-led “soft coup” that heralded the exit of President Robert Mugabe was remarkably quiet, dignified and respectful.

“He is actually looking forward to his new life — farming and staying at the rural home. He has taken it well,” the son of Mugabe’s late sister, Sabina, said.

The positive momentum was seen and felt at a packed National Sports Stadium on Nov. 24, where thousands of jubilant Zimbabweans came to hear newly-elected President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwe deliver his acceptance speech. Draped in the national coat of arms, he began with high praise for the leader he had just replaced.

“Let me pay special tribute to the only surviving father of our Nation, Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe,” he said. “He led us in our struggle for National Independence and assumed responsibilities of leadership at the formative and very challenging time in the birth of our Nation.

“To me personally, he remains a father, mentor, comrade-in-arms and my leader. We thus say thank you to him and trust that our history will grant him his proper place and accord him his deserved stature as one of the founders and leaders of our nation.”

The honors continued on Monday with the announcement that Feb. 21 would become Robert Gabriel Mugabe National Youth Day, a public holiday. Also, Mugabe will receive a $10 million lump sum payment, full immunity, and his current $100,000 a year salary for life. Grace Mugabe will receive half that amount, also for life.

The first couple will be able to remain in their sprawling mansion known as the Blue Roof, in Harare. The state will pay for their medical care, domestic staff, security and foreign travel.

Mr. Mnangagwe’s close ties to the long-enduring ZANU-PF party, however, have raised doubts that he will carry out his promise to hold elections in one year. Mnangagwa has already spurned calls for a coalition government with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
“It is time to open a new page,” insisted trade union secretary-general Japhet Moyo, and condemned what he fears will be the retention of “career ministers” by Mnangagwa, some of whom he labeled “thieves and thugs”.

Lawyer Alex T. Magaisa added: “While Zimbabweans understandably embraced military intervention because it led to the ouster of Mugabe and prevented his wife Grace from succeeding him, they must also embrace the fact that it comes with further, less palatable consequences. The episode demonstrates once again that the military has become the kingmaker in Zimbabwean politics.”

Newswire : Zimbabwe leader, facing deadline, refuses ouster by his generals

Robert Mugabe
Robert Mugabe, embattled President of Zimbabwe

Nov. 20, 2017 (GIN) – President Robert Mugabe, rejecting demands from former friendly generals and war veterans to step down, now faces impeachment from members of his party.

In a televised address late Sunday, the 93-year-old president crushed expectations he would resign after a military takeover, pitching the country into a second week of political crisis.

Lawmakers from his ruling ZANU-PF party said that they would take the first steps on Tuesday necessary to push Mugabe from office as the veteran leader had ignored their ultimatum to announce his departure by Monday morning.

“We have got a clear position, we are going to impeach — the man has to go,” government MP MacKenzie Ncube told the French news wire AFP after a key meeting of ruling party lawmakers. Once a simple majority of parliamentarians votes for impeachment, an investigative committee is formed by lawmakers, who report back to both houses of parliament. Each house must then vote by a two-thirds majority for him to be stripped of office.

In a 20 minute speech on Sunday, Mugabe, surrounded by military men, downplayed what was called a “soft coup.” He said the operation by his generals did not represent a threat to the country’s constitutional order nor was it a challenge to his authority as head of state.

Referencing the mounting discontent from inside his party and from the security forces, he admitted: “I as the President of Zimbabwe and their commander in chief do acknowledge the issues they have drawn my attention to… These were raised in the spirit of honesty and out of deep and patriotic concern.”

He suggested that a conversation within the party could return the country to normalcy “so all our people could go about their business unhindered, in perfect peace and security, assured that law and order obtain and prevail as before.”

But in the streets, the anticipation of long-awaited change exploded in joyous street rallies and marches – clearly the population had turned a corner on the Mugabe era. The country was not likely to “return to normalcy,” as the President claimed.

Mrs. Mugabe, whose rise to power and possibly the presidency alarmed war veterans and generals, stayed out of the limelight.

The unexpected developments that began last Tuesday produced voluminous articles and interviews by Zimbabweans and western observers. Many expressed concerned that the stage-management by military officers was not the return to democracy that many had hoped.

“Some citizens, rightfully desperate for change, say this is the best step toward some kind of reform, but it’s not,” wrote Glen Mpani, a Zimbabwean political analyst writing for the New York Times. “There is evidence this intervention is driven by the self-interest of military generals rather than national interest, which makes prospects for economic and democratic reforms bleak.”

“Handing power to the military will leave Zimbabweans at the mercy of a very unpredictable group that has rarely worked on behalf of the people,” he continued. “And military leadership will most certainly leave the people with an unpredictable future.

“Coups are a regressive path to achieving democratic ends,” he concluded. “Once the army has settled in, its interests — not ours — will be the priority. Any prospects for reforming the country lie in returning power to citizens — and for the army to respect civilian authority.”