In the end, it took the Zimbabwe Defence Force (ZDF) and an ousted vice-president to overthrow the 93-year-old politician amid an internal power struggle within the ruling Zanu-PF party.
Once the technicalities of ensuring a quorum and having a chairperson appointed were finalised as many senior leaders of the party were not present – according to Zanu-PF – the party’s central committee put its collective nose to the grindstone.
The ZDF made its move on November 15, keeping Mugabe and his second wife, Grace, “safe” at the palatial presidential home in the capital of Harare and stating the objective of targeting “the criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country” – and Mugabe’s downfall seemeded inevitable.
It took just an hour for ZanuPF to resolve to call for Mugabe’s resignation as president and first secretary of the party, failing which it would recall him or institute parliamentary action against him.
The party said it would also ask for Zimbabwe’s vice-president Phelekezela Mphoko’s resignation. The central committee said it would call for Grace to step down as its women’s league secretary, expel up to 15 senior party members and resolved to overturn sacked vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa’s expulsion.
The plan is then for Mnangagwa to be installed as president tomorrow, following Mugabe’s impeachment if he did not go quietly.
Harare resident Zims Khaleesi – a pseudonym as people still have a healthy fear of the army and police – said the atmosphere in the city was euphoric.
“On Saturday, there was such a peaceful gathering and march,” he said. “People of all races and ages united, celebrated, sang, danced in the streets of Harare without any fear, theft or worries.
“There was an immense euphoria that I have never experienced before. The people of Zimbabwe came together as one to express their feelings, which we have been forced to suppress for years for fear of being killed, hurt or imprisoned.”
But Zimbabwean senator David Coltart sounded a cautionary note yesterday, saying people should “never become so intoxicated as to forget that it was the same generals who allowed Mugabe to come to power in 2008 and 2013”.
In a statement yesterday he added: “We must unite in demanding that the military now step back. “If Mugabe refuses to resign, then parliament must play its role in impeaching him. We don’t need the military to do that.”