Khama: Mugabe needs to step down now
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe had been under house arrest since Wednesday.
JOHANNESBURG – Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has left a university in Harare where he appeared in public for the first time since the military takeover.
Mugabe, dressed in a blue and yellow gown, appeared relaxed while listening to the national anthem and even appeared to nod off a few times later on during the ceremony.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe attends the graduation ceremony at the Zimbabwe Open University in Harare on 17 November 2017. Picture: EWN
Mugabe had been under house arrest since Wednesday following an early morning announcement of a purge of so-called criminals around him by the military.
The president’s attendance is part of an annual tradition, but there were doubts that he would appear today.
Neither the president’s wife, Grace, nor education minister Jonathan Moyo were present.
Armed soldier and police monitored the area.
Meanwhile, the head of Zimbabwe’s war veterans’ leader Chris Mutsvangwa says the war vets salute the steps taken by the defence forces this week.
GALLERY: On the ground in Zimbabwe
He's warned Mugabe will not be allowed to resist the military to stay in power.
He's also promised that stronger ties will be forged between Zimbabwe and Britain once the current situation is dealt with.
‘MUGABE MUST STEP DOWN’
Botswana’s President Ian Khama says Mugabe now needs to step down from power.
Khama says he's unaware of any regional diplomatic support for the 93-year-old veteran leader.
He believes the events of the past week present an opportunity to put Zimbabwe on a path to peace and prosperity.
NO GOING BACK
Leaders of Mugabe’s party are making plans to force him from office if the 93-year-old leader resists pressure from the army to quit, a senior party source said on Friday.
The self-styled grand old man of African politics, the only leader Zimbabwe has known since independence in 1980, insists he is still in charge. But the source, a senior member of Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party, made clear the party wanted him gone.
“If he becomes stubborn, we will arrange for him to be fired on Sunday,” the source said. “When that is done, it’s impeachment on Tuesday.”
Zimbabwe’s official newspaper, the Herald, ran photographs late on Thursday that showed a grinning Mugabe shaking hands with military chief General Constantino Chiwenga, who seized power this week.
That suggested Mugabe was managing to hold out against Chiwenga’s coup, with some political sources saying he was trying to delay his departure until elections scheduled for next year.
The Zanu-PF source said that was not the case.
Anxious to avoid a protracted stalemate, party leaders were drawing up plans to dismiss Mugabe at the weekend if he refused to quit, the source said.
“There is no going back,” the source told Reuters. “It’s like a match delayed by heavy rain, with the home side leading 90-0 in the 89th minute.”
Mugabe’s options look limited. The army is camped on his doorstep. His wife, Grace, is under house arrest, and her key political allies are in military custody. The police, once a bastion of support, have shown no signs of resistance.
Furthermore, he has little popular backing in the capital, a hotbed of support for the opposition, which has tapped into the anger and frustration at his handling of the economy, which collapsed after the seizure of white-owned farms in 2000.
Unemployment is now running at nearly 90%. Chronic shortages of hard currency are driving up the price of imports as much as 50% a month.
Additional reporting by Reuters.
(Edited by Shimoney Regter)