World News

Zimbabwe’s Mugabe clings to power as resignation ultimatum passes

Key Points
  • A deadline for Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe to step down has passed
  • The chief whip of ZANU-PF has reportedly said impeachment talks are underway
  • Mugabe has responded by calling for a cabinet meeting at his State House offices on Tuesday

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has ignored a deadline to resign, choosing instead to cling on to his 37-year-long rule.

Following the midday local time cut-off, the chief whip of the ruling ZANU-PF party said talks on how to start the impeachment process to forcibly remove Mugabe from power would now begin.

In a further twist, Reuters also reported that the 93-year-old leader had called his cabinet for a meeting on Tuesday at the State House offices.

Impeachment will likely throw the country into deeper turmoil as the government must now embark what will be a lengthy and potentially chaotic process. A two-thirds majority of parliament against the president is required to legally pass the measure.

In a rollercoaster week for the country of 16 million, scenes on the streets of the capital, Harare, have gone from tanks and gunfire to protests and jubilant dancing to celebrate the longtime leader's anticipated departure from power.

Mugabe's own ruling party ZANU-PF called for him to step down and subsequently fired him as party leader, threatening impeachment in the absence of a voluntary resignation. Part of the party's opposition stemmed from a rejection of Mugabe's highly unpopular wife Grace, who was slated to succeed him in office.

Such popular demonstrations would have been met with a severe crackdown just a week earlier.

The military took control of the country on November 14 in a now-apparent effort to end Mugabe's nearly four-decade long rule, ostensibly to return former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa to power after Mugabe sacked him two weeks prior. Mugabe's tenure was marked by a record of human rights abuses, violent suppression of dissent and corruption.

Looking ahead

In the event that new and improved leadership is eventually achieved, analysts have suggested substantial growth potential for the southern African nation. Years of economic mismanagement and isolation from international sanctions crippled the once-fruitful economy, rich in minerals and agriculture. Currently, poverty exceeds 70 percent and Zimbabwe ranked 154 out of 176 nations in Transparency International's 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Around one week before the military takeover — which military leaders insisted was not a coup — army chief General Constantino Chiwenga visited Beijing on an official Chinese visit, raising questions about China's knowledge or approval of the intervention. Chinese officials have denied any prior knowledge of the developments, calling the visit a "normal military exchange."

Zimbabwe and China have deep financial and diplomatic ties, with Beijing having provided the African country billions of dollars in loans and investments since its economic isolation from the West. China's stake in the country will undoubtedly play a role in its future going forward.

Mugabe fired as leader of the ruling Zanu-PF party
Mugabe fired as leader of the ruling Zanu-PF party