Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe File photo: ANA

Harare - Robert Mugabe made no mention of resigning as Zimbabwean president as he addressed the nation on TV hours after the ruling Zanu-PF party fired him.

Mugabe addressed the nation on Zimbabwe's state broadcaster ZBC amid reports that he would resign, but the president ended his speech without announcing his resignation.

Mugabe acknowledged criticism against him from Zanu-PF, the military and the public, but did not comment on the possibility of standing down.

Instead he stressed he was still in power after his authoritarian 37-year reign was rocked by a military takeover.

"The (ruling ZANU-PF) party congress is due in a few weeks and I will preside over its processes," Mugabe said.

Zanu-PF had given the 93-year-old less than 24 hours to quit as head of state or face impeachment, an attempt to secure a peaceful end to his tenure after a de facto coup.

After Mugabe's address on Sunday, the leader of Zimbabwe's war veterans said plans to impeach Mugabe would go ahead as scheduled.

Chris Mutsvangwa, who has been leading a campaign to oust Mugabe, told Reuters in a text message moments after Mugabe finished his speech that people would take to the streets of Harare on Wednesday. 

Mugabe, the only leader the southern African nation has known since independence from Britain in 1980, was replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa, the deputy he sacked this month in a move that triggered the mid-week intervention by the army.

Mugabe has been given until noon (1000 GMT) on Monday to resign or face impeachment, an ignominious end to the career of the "Grand Old Man" of African politics who was once feted across the continent as an anti-colonial liberation hero.

Even in the West, he was renowned in his early years as the "Thinking Man's Guerrilla", an ironic nickname for a man who would later proudly declare he held a "degree in violence".

As the economy crumbled and political opposition to his rule grew in the late 1990s, Mugabe seized thousands of white-owned farms, detained opponents and unleashed security forces to crush dissent.

Earlier on Sunday when the vote to expel Mugabe from Zanu-PF was announced, war veterans leader Chris Mutsvangwa, who has spearheaded an 18-month campaign to remove a man he openly described as a "dictator", embraced colleagues and shouted: "The President is gone. Long live the new President."

Mugabe's 52-year-old wife Grace, who had harboured ambitions of succeeding her husband, was also expelled from Zanu-PF, along with at least a quarter of the cabinet who had formed the backbone of her "G40" political faction.

Speaking before the meeting, Mutsvangwa said Mugabe, who has so far resisted calls to quit, was running out of time to negotiate his departure and should leave the country while he could. "He's trying to bargain for a dignified exit," he said.

If Mugabe refused to go, "we will bring back the crowds and they will do their business," Mutsvangwa told reporters.

Mnangagwa, a former state security chief known as "The Crocodile," is expected to head an interim post-Mugabe unity government that will focus on rebuilding ties with the outside world and stabilising an economy in freefall.

The next presidential election is due in 2018.

On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of people flooded the streets of Harare, singing, dancing and hugging soldiers in an outpouring of elation at Mugabe's expected overthrow.

His stunning downfall is likely to send shockwaves across Africa, where a number of entrenched strongmen, from Uganda's Yoweri Museveni to Democratic Republic of Congo's Joseph Kabila, are facing mounting pressure to step down.

Reuters and AFP