Embattled Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was fired by ZANU-PF, the nation’s ruling party, as its leader on Sunday just three days after a dramatic takeover by the military. The 93- year old Mugabe was given until Monday or less than 24 hours to resign as President of Zimbabwe or face impeachment.
The move effective puts an end to Mugabe’s 37 year rule. He was the only leader elected into power since Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980. Mugabe will be replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa whose termination appeared to have triggered military action.
On November 5, Mugabe sacked Mnangagwa from his position as Vice- President citing “traits of disloyalty”. Mnangagwa was seen as the leading candidate to replace Mugabe as President. However, Mugabe’s wife Grace had been very vocal about her disapproval of Mnangagwa:
“The snake must be hit on the head. We must deal with the snake behind the factions and discord in the party. We are going for the congress as a united party.”
For months Mrs. Mugabe had been citing reports that a military coup was in the works and that supporters of Mnangagwa were behind it.
Mnangagwa’s dismissal as Vice- President meant Mrs. Mugabe would succeed her husband as President of Zimbabwe; a situation that was met with displeasure by those in the senior ranks of the military.
Tensions heightened between President Mugabe and the military with the ZANU-PF accusing Army Chief General Constantino Chiwena of “treasonable conduct” for openly criticizing the termination of Mnangagwa.
Within 24 hours, the situation had deteriorated. Gunfire erupted near the private residence of President Mugabe.
By Wednesday, 15 November, the military was in full control of the country. President Mugabe was placed under house arrest and senior military officers led by Major General Sibusiso Moyo appeared on late night television to address the nation:
“The President and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed.”
However, Moyo insisted the military’s actions were not a “takeover”:
“We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes. As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”
Mrs. Mugabe was likewise expelled from ZANU – PF.
Mnangagwa who was former state security chief will now shift focus on heading a post- Mugabe unity government that will be tasked with rebuilding ties with other countries in the hope of revitalizing an economy headed to a downward- spiral.