Residents attend a prayer meeting called to celebrate after Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was dismissed as party leader of the ruling ZANU-PF’s central committee in Harare on November 19, 2017. Picture: REUTERS/PHILIMON BULAWAYO
Residents attend a prayer meeting called to celebrate after Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was dismissed as party leader of the ruling ZANU-PF’s central committee in Harare on November 19, 2017. Picture: REUTERS/PHILIMON BULAWAYO

Harare — Zimbabwe’s political temperature is rising, with war veterans on Monday calling for street marches on Tuesday in order to force President Robert Mugabe to step down.

He was given a deadline of noon on Monday to resign, failing which impeachment proceedings would begin.

But, despite CNN reporting on Monday that terms for his departure had been agreed and his resignation letter drafted, the noon deadline passed with no announcement.

However, all Zanu (PF) MPs and senators have been told to report for a caucus at the party’s headquarters at 2.30pm on Monday.

Mugabe stunned the nation in a televised Sunday broadcast which skirted mention of stepping down, but instead emphasised that he would preside over Zanu (PF)’s elective congress.

His defiance came hours after Zanu (PF) party had recalled him as party president on grounds of incapacitation due to old age. He turns 94 in February.

“We don’t know what happened, but we suspect that he deliberately did not read the part of his speech in which he was announcing his resignation to the nation,” Douglas Mahiya, the spokesperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, told BDlive in an interview at the Rainbow Towers in Harare.

The war veterans have called for a march on Blue Roof, Mugabe’s private residence in Borrowdale, to call on him to step down.

War veterans leader Christopher Mutsvangwa said he did not expect the military either to stop or fire on the marchers who would make their way to the Mugabe’s residence.

He has been office for 37 years, he must not be allowed to even remain for a further 37 seconds,
Chris Mutsvanga, the head of the Zimbabwe War Veterans Association

Grace Mugabe has been under house arrest there, and it is where Jonathan Moyo and Saviour Kasukuwere and their families are also thought to be in hiding from the military.

“The marches we had on Saturday were peaceful and we expect the same when people march to Blue Roof. I don’t expect the military to fire at unarmed civilians; our military has shown that it is very professional,” Mutsvangwa told journalists at a press briefing in Harare.

Mutsvangwa urged the international community to apply more pressure on Mugabe to step down, appealing to regional, continental and international bodies such as the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), the African Union (AU) and the UN to add their voices to the condemnation of Mugabe’s continued stay in office.

“He has been office for 37 years, he must not be allowed to even remain for a further 37 seconds,” Mutsvangwa said.

Students at the University of Zimbabwe refused to sit for their exams on Monday, saying they would write exams only once Mugabe had stepped down.

The students mounted a peaceful protest demanding also that the degree awarded to Grace Mugabe by the institution be withdrawn.

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