If you have been following international news then you will be aware that military vehicles were seen on the streets of Harare last week, sparking rumours that a military coup was underway. Although a coup was denied by the military they did seize state television, ZBC and place President Robert Mugabe who has ruled Zimbawe for 37 years, under house arrest.
It is believed that this recent course of events was triggered by the actions of 93 year old Mugabe just a fortnight ago when he sacked his deputy and friend, Emmerson Mnangagwa, nicknamed the 'crocodile'. Mnangagwa, fearing for his life, subsequently fled the country. Those within Mugabe's own political party Zanu PF and beyond believe the sacking of Mnangagwa was an attempt by Mugabe to position his wife, Grace Mugabe, four decades his junior, as his successor and this certainly riled senior officials.
There have been widespread demonstrations on the streets of Harare and overwhelming support for Mugabe to resign in the days since, both nationally and internationally. However in today's extraordinary , stumbling public address to the nation Mugabe vowed to stay on. Reports suggest that Mugabe switched his speech at the last minute possibly accounting for the faltering delivery. It is also reported that military officials were somewhat taken aback, expecting Mugabe to announce his resignation as agreed.
This now leaves a very sticky situation with Mugabe at odds with both the military leadership of Zimbabwe and his own party Zanu PF who have sacked him in favour of his ex vice president, Mnangagwa who has hastily returned from hiding and has possibly engineered this whole situation from South Africa. Significantly, Zanu PF has expelled a number of senior members including Mugabe's wife Grace.
Mr Mnangagwa is the former defence minister, spy chief and veteran of the war of independence, and a key figure in the latest developments in Zimbabwe. An internal power struggle within the ruling Zanu PF party seems to be the catalyst for change here. When Mnangagwa was removed he was replaced by a known supporter of Grace Mugabe - Mphoko. So even if Mugabe is removed it is still unclear who will succeed as President - Mnangagwa seems to have the support of the military but Mphoko is the man currently in pole position to take over leadership.
With Congress due to meet in December and overwhelming pressure on Mugabe to stand aside we continue to watch the situation closely, and to monitor Foreign Office Advisory for Zimbabwe. All protests to date have been peaceful and it is important to stress that this situation has only affected Harare and not tourist centres such as Victoria Falls, Hwange and Kariba.
The situation in Zimbabwe is changing on a daily basis so if you have any concerns about travelling to any areas in Zimbabwe please do call us for advice. News agencies await further developments - most likely a motion to impeach, which we expect in the next day or two.
The oppostion has tried to remove Mr Mugabe in the past but has failed. Impeachment involves both the Senate and National Assembly voting by a majority to remove the President, most likely on the grounds that he tried to usurp constitutional powers, although the full extent of charges is not entirely clear as yet. If the vote is successful, a committee would be drawn from the two houses who would then investigate further requiring a two thirds majority to actually remove Mugabe.
UPDATED 24 November 2017
Today, Mnangagwe paid tribute to Robert Mugabe at his inauguration speech as the new President of Zimbabwe, while promising to rebuild Zimbabwe and address the social and political issues including widespread corruption in government which he said had no place in his administration. His speech was full of promise. We now wait and watch to see how his rule develops.
Robert Mugabe resigned on November 21st, halting impeachment proceedings. A letter by Mugabe was read out by the speaker of paliament saying it was a voluntary decision and he wanted a smooth transition. Zimbabweans celebrated the news.
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