Zanu-PF to finalise Mugabe’s removal as party leader

Friday’s meeting completes the 93-year-old Robert Mugabe’s removal as Zanu-PF party leader. Emmerson Mnangagwa was inaugurated in November after the military stepped in.

FILE: Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe’s ruling party is meeting to finalise Robert Mugabe’s fall from grace and make new leader Emmerson Mnangagwa its candidate for next year’s elections.

Mnangagwa was inaugurated in November after the military stepped in.

Mugabe resigned after hundreds of thousands rallied in the streets and lawmakers began impeachment proceedings against him.

Friday’s meeting completes the 93-year-old’s removal as Zanu-PF party leader.

Meanwhile, Mnangagwa has called for the removal of Western sanctions on his government during a speech to ruling party officials and said elections due in 2018 were "nearer than you expect”.

While the European Union removed sanctions on Zanu-PF officials, members of the military and some government-owned firms in 2014, the United States has kept a travel and economic embargo on several ruling party elites.

“We call for the unconditional lifting of the political and economic sanctions, which have crippled our national development,” Mnangagwa told a meeting of the Zanu-PF central committee in downtown Harare.

“We realise that isolation is not splendid or viable as there is more to gain through solidarity, mutually beneficial partnerships.”

The international community will be closely watching the next elections in 2018, which Mnangagwa said would be free and fair and would be held nearer than most people expect.

The vote is due at the end of July in 2018 but there is talk it can be brought forward as early as March.