Harare - Zanu PF leaders said on Monday they were “shocked” when President Robert Mugabe did not resign last night when he stumbled through a long, complex and badly written speech saying he would preside over next month’s party congress.
Paul Mangwana, a member of the central committee, and one of the main players in drawing up the 2013 constitution, was one of 200 who voted to recall Mugabe and expel many others in the party, said early Monday: “I was shocked. We were all shocked. We didn’t expect this. I don’t know what the generals are saying as we haven’t yet spoken to them.”
Zanu PF’s method of getting rid of Mugabe via the central committee was done by breaking its own rules, said constitutional expert, Derek Matyszak, who is one of the very few to have studied the document. Zanu PF’s structures are in disrepair, including its rarely used web site." There were many violations of the party’s constitution, but that hardly seems to mean much now. There is no chairman of the party for example, as Mugabe did not appoint one."
Mangwana insists that the party followed all its rules and regulations when it voted to sack Mugabe at the central committee yesterday: “We did it by the book. Obert Mpofu is now the senior person, as we had no vice presidents. All was done according to the rules."
The generals who lined up behind Mugabe at State House, included the chief of the armed forces General Constantino Chiwenga and others who are in control of key parts of the country, such as parliament and most government offices and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation. Surprisingly commissioner of police, Augustine Chihuri, who is in the G-40 faction of Zanu PF which was loyal to Grace Mugabe and wanted her appointed as a vice president, was alongside other generals when Mugabe spoke to the nation last night.
Patrick Chinamasa, former finance minister, was also “shocked” at Mugabe’s statement, but declined to speak further. But many are still stunned.
Chris Greenland, Rhodesia’s first black judicial officer, later elevated to the High Court bench after independence by Mugabe, said: “I think that logically I have to conclude President Mugabe does not believe that by Tuesday noon, parliament will have the two thirds it needs to impeach him. That is the only logical conclusion one can draw from what’s happened.” Greenland abandoned the Bench and Zimbabwe several years ago and is in Pretoria.
A Zanu PF insider (one of Mugabe’s great nephews) who supports Mugabe, but who asked not to be named, said: “This means he stays in office until the congress where he can then retire with dignity rather then now in front of the generals standing over him.”
But former education minister David Coltart, who worked alongside Mugabe for four years in cabinet during the inclusive government is not so sure.
"I think this is classic Mugabe. He is too proud a man to be humiliated in this way, he has always lived for today without regard for tomorrow. And he was simply not prepared today to take that humiliation. I think as well there were signs of dementia, he looked dishevelled. These events of the last days may well have set him back from a mental health perspective. He spoke about missing two pages of his speech, the speech was rambling, incomprehensible.
"He could not have been unaware of the demonstration. He saw the military allowing that demonstration. He could not have been ignorant of the size of the demonstration or the Zanu PF decision at the central committee today. Again, perhaps this is dementia kicking in."
"They can impeach him in an afternoon. It is not a complicated process.”
So the MDC and Zanu PF are preparing to go to parliament tomorrow. Veritas, an NGO specialising in the constitution and parliament said yesterday: “The only way for Mr Mugabe to be removed from office constitutionally outside a general election is for parliament to impeach him.”
To do this the House of Assembly, senate and parliament must have support of two thirds of the members - not just two thirds of those who turn up - to send Mugabe packing.
The key words from Mugabe’s often rambling speech which acknowledge Zanu PF is in trouble were.
"Our policy of reconciliation we pronounced in 1980 cannot be unavailable to our own both in party and nation I am aware that many developments have happened in the party. Given failings of the past, such developments are understandable. We can not be guided by vengefulness.
"These are being alienated but this should stop. In respect of the party there are two standpoints acknowledged that should be addressed urgently. The party has been failing in its rules. There has to be a net return to our guiding principles and the era of victimisation and arbitrary victimisation should stop.
Flagship projects are stagnant and this must stop, he says. We are a nation born out of struggle. We still have in our communities veterans of the struggle.
"A few incidents may have occurred but these have been corrected. State institutions remained functional. Among other issues discussed is that relating to the economy which is going through a difficult patch. Of greater concern from commanders is that lack of unity in the party….translating to the economy.
"Today’s meeting calls for processes that return our country to normalcy….the unshakable state of peace in the country. Action taken was not a threat to constitutional order or my authority as President and I acknowledges the concerns raised by the Generals regarding the state of the party and nation. He also says he is aware of the concerns coming from all citizens.”
But regardless of his words and determination to hang on to power for the next few weeks, the overwhelming majority of Zanu PF leaders have rejected Mugabe. “He is not wanted. He is gone. Even if it didn’t happen last night,” said a Zanu PF member who came into Harare from the Mashonaland West province for Saturday’s demonstration. He said he would stay on for any other demonstration that happened.
Mugabe is at his ‘blue roof’ mansion in northern Harare. His two sons are with him, and seemed unaware of the crisis in the country as they ate out at one of the hotels, one of the very few places in central Harare where there are open restaurants. There was again no money in the ATM’s on Monday and no bank queues as there is no money in the banks.
Unconfirmed reports emerging in Harare are that President Robert Mugabe has agreed to stand down, and his resignation letter, has been drafted now that he has secured indemnity for both he and his wife Grace. This is reported by CNN, but was not confirmed elsewhere by 11 am Monday.
Independent Foreign Service