Zanu-PF party members are determined to “get rid of this animal called Mugabe” in impeachment proceedings starting on Tuesday, but it may not be that simple to oust Robert Mugabe as Zimbabwe’s president.
Party chief whip Lovemore Matuke filed papers in parliament that accused Mugabe of misconduct and “failure to obey, uphold or defend this constitution”.
The motion accuses Mugabe of ignoring “endemic corruption” and presiding over an “unprecedented economic tailspin”.”We want to get rid of this animal called Mugabe. He must go. We have the numbers; the opposition is also going to support us,” Zanu-PF MP Vongai Mupereri told AFP.
Mugabe, despite being removed as Zanu-PF leader at the weekend, seemed determined to continue with business as usual and called for a cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning.
This while Zanu-PF’s chief whip said an impeachment motion was a certainty after Mugabe missed the Monday noon deadline to step down.MPs and the Senate spent Monday afternoon meeting to decide on the proposed impeachment process. They also negotiated with opposition MPs as a two-thirds majority is needed to remove Mugabe in parliament.
“We have got a clear position; we are going to impeach – the man has to go,” said another MP, MacKenzie Ncube.
High on the agenda on Monday’s Zanu-PF meeting was how the party would handle the post-Mugabe period since Mugabe had fired vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The second vice-president, Phelekeza Mphoko, who is considered loyal to first lady Grace Mugabe, would be the natural successor if Mugabe were successfully impeached.Mphoko is believed to be in exile in Russia.
If Mnangagwa, who is backed by the military, had a chance of taking over, the army would first have to persuade Mugabe to reappoint him.
“If he is impeached, it could set the pace for elections. Is the party ready? It could also mean Mphoko becomes president because Mugabe didn’t fire him. There is also the issue of how Mnangagwa will fit into the puzzle,” said an opposition politician close to the talks.The source warned if Zanu-PF failed to agree on how to approach the matter, the impeachment plan could be shelved. Already, former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda is in Zimbabwe to “sweet-talk” Mugabe into stepping down in a dignified manner.
Another complicating factor is that Zanu-PF now needs buy-in from opposition party MPs, some of whom were unhappy with its handling of the process so far.
A source from the People’s Rainbow Coalition said it had lodged displeasure at Patrick Chinamasa’s claims it was a Zanu-PF matter.
“We will still negotiate for a Mugabe exit but Zanu-PF has to acknowledge our demands,” he said.
Former deputy prime minister Professor Arthur Mutambara said impeachment would not be easy. “The process is not a walk in the park. The legal route of removing is long and arduous; but not impossible.”
Earlier, the opposition was infuriated by some Zanu- PF elements that felt they could go the distance alone.