Impeachment orders begin after Robert Mugabe ignores calls to resign

Zimbabwe's ruling party ordered impeachment proceedings to begin against longtime President Robert Mugabe last night and expressed confidence that he could be voted out within the next two days.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe delivering a speech in Harare. Picture: AFP/Getty Images

The dramatic, if expected move, came as the world’s oldest head of state ignored the party’s midday deadline to resign and instead summoned ministers to a Cabinet meeting this morning.

The ruling Zanu-PF party’s deputy secretary for legal affairs Paul Mangwana said politicians would move a motion for impeachment today and set up a parliamentary committee, and on Wednesday the committee would report back to all politicians and “we vote him out.”

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The main charge against the 93-year-old Mr Mugabe is “allowing his wife to usurp government powers” and that “he is too old and cannot even walk without help,” Mangwana told reporters.

He said the ruling party needs the backing of the MDC opposition group to have enough votes in parliament but “we have talked to them and they are supporting us.”

Zimbabweans were stunned by Mr Mugabe’s defiance during a national address Sunday night in which the increasingly isolated president, put under military house arrest last week, had been expected to step down. Mr Mugabe did acknowledge “a whole range of concerns” about the chaotic state of the government and the economy, which has collapsed since he took power after independence from white minority rule in 1980.

A notice by Mr Mugabe’s chief secretary announced Tuesday morning’s Cabinet meeting at State House and said all ministers “should attend.” However, a tweet by one minister, Jonathan Moyo, indicated that several had left the country.

The military appears to favour a voluntary resignation for Mr Mugabe, one of Africa’s last remaining liberation leaders, to maintain a veneer of legality in the political transition and avoid accusations of a coup. Mr Mugabe, in turn, is likely using whatever leverage he has left to try to preserve his legacy or even protect himself from possible prosecution.

The firing of Mnangagwa and the positioning of first lady Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband as president led the military to step in last week. Mr Mugabe has discussed his possible exit on two occasions with military commanders.

The military has said it was making progress against “criminals” close to the first lady who had been accused of harming the country’s economy. Grace Mugabe has remained silent since the military moved against the family.