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Defiant Mugabe calls for unity in Zanu-PF

Robert Mugabe was removed as party leader on Sunday and ordered to step down as the country’s president.

FILE: A screengrab from the broadcast of Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) shows former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe delivering a speech in Harare on 19 November 2017 following a meeting with army chiefs who have seized power in Zimbabwe. Picture: AFP.

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has brushed off calls for his resignation and instead appealed for unity in the ruling Zanu-PF party.

It was widely expected that Mugabe would announce his resignation on state television on Sunday night after his party removed him as leader and recommended he step down from the presidency.

He's been given until midday on Monday to step down.

In his address, Mugabe said that the upcoming party congress will come up with a clear roadmap to solve once and for all any ommissions or contradictions that have negatively affected Zanu-PF.

"Indeed, all these matters will be discussed and settled at the forthcoming congress."

Mugabe has described the current state of the economy in Zimbabwe as going through a difficult patch.

But his party's Christopher Mutsvangwa believes otherwise, blaming the 93-year-old leader for the demise of the economy.

"He's thrown this country into a comatose state. We have an economy that has been utterly destroyed, worse than it has gone through a war because of the dereliction of duty. There is not an iota of understanding of how a modern economy works."

Zanu-PF has given Mugabe until midday on Monday to resign, failing which they will begin the process to impeach him.

Two sources, one a senior member of the government, the other familiar with talks with leaders of the military, had told Reuters that Mugabe would use the address to announce his resignation after Zanu-PF earlier sacked him as its leader in a step precipitated by an army takeover four days earlier.

But in the speech from his official residence, sitting alongside a row of generals, Mugabe acknowledged criticisms from Zanu-PF, the military and the public, but made no mention of his own position, instead pledging to preside over the Zanu-PF congress scheduled for next month.

Zimbabweans were left stunned and confused when Mugabe failed to make the much anticipated announcement.

However, Zanu-PF Chief Whip Lovemore Matuke is confident that if Mugabe doesn’t resign he will be successfully impeached.

“We have got more than enough numbers. In fact, the whole parliament, if not 90%, they are supporting the call. So the issue of numbers is out of the question.”

WATCH: Mugabe sacked from Zanu-PF but no resignation

Zanu-PF had given the 93-year-old, who led his country to indepndence in 1980, less than 24 hours to quit as head of state or face impeachment, an attempt to secure a peaceful end to his tenure after a de facto military coup.

The leader of Zimbabwe’s liberation war veterans said plans to impeach Mugabe would now go ahead.

Chris Mutsvangwa, who has been leading a campaign to oust Mugabe, told Reuters in a text message moment after Mugabe finished his speech that people would take to the streets of Harare on Wednesday.

Zanu-PF’s central committee had earlier named Emmerson Mnangagwa as its new leader. It was Mugabe’s sacking of Mnangagwa as his vice-president, to pave the way for his wife Grace to succeed him, that triggered the army’s intervention.

On Saturday, hundreds of thousands took to the streets of the capital Harare to celebrate Mugabe’s downfall and hail a new era for their country.

'READY TO DIE'

On Saturday, men, women and children ran alongside the armoured cars and troops who stepped in to target what the army called “criminals” in Mugabe’s inner circle.

Meanwhile, the man himself remained under house arrest in his lavish “Blue Roof” compound, watching the support from his party, security services and people evaporate.

Speaking from a secret location in South Africa, his nephew, Patrick Zhuwao, told Reuters Mugabe and his wife were “ready to die for what is correct” rather than step down in order to legitimise what he described as a coup.

Zhuwao, who was also sanctioned by Zanu-PF, did not answer his phone on Sunday. However, Mugabe’s son Chatunga railed against those who had pushed out his father.

“You can’t fire a Revolutionary leader!” he wrote on this Facebook page. “Zanu-PF is nothing without President Mugabe.”

Additional reporting by Reuters

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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