Mugabe sacked as party leader

The ousting of long time leader Robert Mugabe progressed in the weekend with Zimbabwe’s governing party voting to expel him and his wife. His resignation as President has also been demanded, or he will be impeached.

Mugabe is scheduled to address the country shortly and is expected to resign.

Guardian: Zimbabwe’s ruling party fires Robert Mugabe as leader

Zanu PF has sacked the president and replaced him with Emmerson Mnangagwa, the deputy he dismissed two weeks ago

The ruling party in Zimbabwe has given Robert Mugabe until noon on Monday to resign as president or face impeachment by parliament.

In an extraordinary meeting in Harare, the capital, on Sunday morning more than 200 Zanu-PF leaders voted to sack Mugabe as the party’s leader and demanded that the 93 year old “resign forthwith from his position as head of state”.

The move by his own party significantly weakens the position of Mugabe, who has refused to step down following a military takeover last week, despite huge demonstrations in cities across the country on Saturday demanding that he leaves power.

Mugabe has argued that the military takeover is an illegal coup and appears to be hoping that this will trigger regional intervention, sources familiar with his negotiations with the military said.

Zimbabwe’s parliament will reconvene on Tuesday after a week-long suspension and will launch impeachment proceedings immediately if the president has not resigned, MPs said.

The procedure is unprecedented, and it is unclear how long it might take.

Zanu-PF also expelled Grace Mugabe, the divisive first lady, and twenty of her closest associates.

When the motion was passed, removing Mugabe from the head of the party and appointing Emmerson Mnangagwa to replace him, the hall of Zanu-PF delegates broke into cheers, song and dance.

The 200 or so members of the central committee leapt to their feet, many singing Mnangagwa’s name.

“This is the day that is defining the new birth and development of our country,” said Mike Madiro, chairman of one of the provincial party branches that had formally set Mugabe’s dethroning in motion.

This may be the end of the Mugabe era – he has served as president since 1987 – but this is not necessarily the end of dire political and economic situations in Zimbabe – This is redistribution for Zimbabwe’s elite, not revolution in a ruined nation:

In the capital, the roads are potholed, outside they are cracked and crumbling. Banks are so short of cash that people wait hours to withdraw even tiny sums. The only jobs are in government service, yet salaries are rarely paid. The best and the brightest have long fled abroad. Warehouses are empty, fields lie fallow. The busiest store in rural villages is the “bottle shop”, selling dirt-cheap spirits.

Zimbabwe has famously abundant natural resources but resuscitating the economy after 20 years of disastrous mismanagement and wholesale looting by corrupt officials is a major undertaking. The banking system needs to be rebooted, faith restored in the national currency and government finances somehow replenished. The vast debts incurred by Mugabe’s regime need to be rescheduled or waived and new funding arranged to rebuild the country’s shattered infrastructure.

The ruling Zanu-PF party and allies in the military launched their takeover to purge an ambitious faction that threatened their position, not because they wanted to see structural reform that would shut down their own lucrative rackets and rent-seeking.

The people of Zimbabwe have high hopes of a new democratic era. But the ousting of Mugabe was a redistribution of power within the ruling elite of Zimbabwe, not a people’s revolution.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, the ousted vice-president, who is most likely to succeed Mugabe when he finally leaves power, is no committed democrat. He was Mugabe’s chief enforcer, with a long history of human rights abuse. Mnangagwa, 75, will need to make some concessions to public opinion within Zimbabwe and the hopes of the international community, not least to get the donor and diaspora money the country so desperately needs. However, he will seek to do this while reinforcing, not weakening, the grip of the party.

So Zimbabwe’s problems will just have a different figurehead.