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MDC's Tsvangirai tipped to be Zimbabwe PM if Mugabe goes

Robert Mugabe was widely expected to resign during a televised address last night but he chose to focus on calls for unity.

FILE: Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai gestures as he addresses an MDC Alliance launch rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo on 2 September 2017. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - As the political crisis in Zimbabwe continues, Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders are preparing to discuss the impasse at the troika summit in Angola on Tuesday.

President Robert Mugabe has defied calls for him to leave office while military veterans call for protests against his resistance.

The 93-year-old was widely expected to resign during a televised address last night but he chose to focus on calls for unity.

Earlier in the day, Zanu-PF leaders had announced a decision to sack Mugabe as party leader and gave him a deadline to resign by noon today or face impeachment.

But the elderly statesman has shown no interest in quitting.

“The operation I alluded to did not amount to threat to our world’s cherished constitutional order, nor was it a challenge to my authority as head of state and government.”

Local media is reporting that opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai has endorsed the army’s intervention and says he would be prepared to be part of a transitional government.

Meanwhile, a list of the names of preferred candidates to serve in a new government should Mugabe resigns is being widely circulated, with Tsvangirai named as Prime Minister.

Social justice organisation Tajamuka’s Ostallos Sibiza says Tsvangirai represents the democratic dispensation.

“The authority that takes over in the transitional process represents the will of everyone, that’s why in the list there’s Mnangagwa, who represents the liberation movement.

“And then there’s Morgan Tsvangirai who represents the democratic dispensation and commands a huge following within different democratic divides.”

Members of the Zanu-PF say if Mugabe resigns, Mnangagwa will be sworn in as interim president.

WATCH: Mugabe sacked from Zanu-PF but no resignation

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.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)