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Rage and chaos as stumbling Mugabe still clings to power

EMBATTLED Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe called a cabinet meeting for this morning after his party’s MPs moved to impeach him today.

With characteristic chutzpah, Mr Mugabe called the meeting yesterday evening for 9am at the State House in Harare, saying all ministers “should attend.”

Mr Mugabe is supposedly under house arrest following last Tuesday’s military coup but led a university graduation ceremony on Friday. He was widely expected to announce he was stepping down live on TV on Sunday night, but, despite being flanked by generals who backed last week’s coup against him, to the dismay of his many critics he failed to do so in a rambling and incoherent speech.

MPs from his Zanu-PF party met behind closed doors after a noon deadline from the central committee for Mr Mugabe’s resignation passed with no word from the country’s leader of 37 years.

Chief whip Lovemore Matuke refused to answer questions from reporters as he entered the afternoon meeting. But Zanu-PF secretary for legal affairs Paul Mangwana claimed they had voted “unanimously” to set up a committee for Mr Mugabe’s impeachment. It would report back on Wednesday and “we vote him out,” Mr Mangwana insisted.

He said the ruling party would need the support of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) for an impeachment vote, but “they are supporting us.”

Mr Mangwana said the charges against Mr Mugabe were that he was “allowing his wife to usurp government powers” and that “he is too old and cannot even walk without help.”

Later Zanu-PF Chairman Simon Khaya Moyo said the party had ordered the chief whip to start impeachment proceedings.

The central committee removed Mr Mugabe as leader on Sunday and expelled his wife from the party. Former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, sacked by Mr Mugabe two weeks ago, was appointed leader in Mr Mugabe’s place.

As security minister Mr Mnangagwa played a central role in the 1983 Gukurahundi massacres of political opponents and their supporters in Matabeleland, which is considered the worst atrocity of the Zanu-PF government.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions backed the armed forces and the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association — and by extension the coup — at the weekend. But after Sunday night’s bizarre broadcast, the veterans’ chairman Chris Mutsvangwa accused the Zimbabwe defence forces yesterday of protecting Mr Mugabe as their commander-in-chief and threatened more protests to demand his resignation.


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