REVEALED :MUGABE WANTS DIGNIFIED EXIT & SECURE SECURITY FOR HIS FAMILY | President Robert Mugabe is definitely on his way out but the wily former Zanu PF strongman wants to negotiate a dignified exit to secure his legacy and the future of his relatively young family, the Daily News can report.
Mugabe currently has his back against the wall, having lost power to the military, which seized control of government mid last week.
Although the military has avoided calling its intervention a coup, Mugabe has been confined to his private residence in the leafy low-density suburb of Borrowdale, where a few of his Cabinet ministers are also holed up.
On Sunday, Mugabe also lost control of the party he had presided over since 1974, when its policy-making organ, the central committee, resolved that he be recalled from his position and be replaced in the interim by his ally-turned foe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who only a few weeks ago was in self-imposed exile following his dismissal from Zanu PF and government.
As the world crumbles around Africa’s oldest statesman, impeccable sources told the Daily News yesterday that there was a protracted standoff between Mugabe and his generals at State House on Sunday over several concessions that the deposed Zanu PF leader was demanding, key of which was his demand for full immunity.
They said the 93-year-old Mugabe asked for a few more months at the helm of his party and government in order to have a dignified exit.
Even after agreement had been reached on some of the concessions sought, Mugabe’s speech was altered on several occasions such that it was still not clear at the time of going to print if he read the correct statement in his televised address on Sunday.
At one point Mugabe even asked whether he was reading the right statement.
And at the end of his speech Mugabe, then said “sorry, I had skipped some pages, I hope we can clarify that”.
The Daily News is made to understand that Mugabe has already told his inner circle that he is on his way out and a resignation letter will be dispatched to relevant departments to forestall the impeachment bid by both Zanu PF and the MDC today.
“Then military has assured him full immunity. He wants to leave in a dignified way and will hand over power at the congress . . . He will oversee the hand-over at congress . . . he also has to swear in ED (Mnangagwa) so that there is no vacuum . . . others remain under arrest,” a source told the Daily News.
“Mugabe had to come out and make it clear that there was no coup in Zimbabwe so that there is no external intervention. Mugabe fears impeachment, he doesn’t want to go the impeachment route,” a source told the Daily News.
“What happened at State House was stage-managed so that the generals are cleared from the perceptions that they had staged a coup and for Mugabe to accept legitimate intervention of military because there are problems in Zanu PF and government,” another source said.
Those involved in the crunch talks included police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri; Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services boss Paradzai Zimondi; Zimbabwe National Army commander Phillip Valerio Sibanda; Chiwenga and Tonderai Nhepera, who is the acting director of the Central Intelligence Organisation.
Justice minister Happyton Bonyongwe, Mugabe’s press secretary George Charamba and the chief secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda were also present.
The talks are being mediated by Roman Catholic cleric Fidelis Mukonori, a long-standing confidant of Mugabe.
Mugabe has been on the back-foot since the military, led by Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Commander Constantino Chiwenga, stepped in, saying it was temporarily taking over statecraft to restore order.
In his address on Sunday, Mugabe conceded that the army had not stripped him of his powers as Commander-in-Chief, forestalling any attempts or inclinations by the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), which will convene a special meeting on Zimbabwe today, to intervene.
He said the operation by the army “did not amount to a threat to our well-cherished constitutional order. Nor was it a challenge to my authority as Head of State and Government. Not even as Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces”.
As he rumbled through his speech, he also revealed that he will be in charge of the Zanu PF special congress set for next month.
“The congress is due in a few weeks from now. I will preside over its processes which must not be prepossessed by any acts calculated to undermine it or to compromise its outcomes in the eyes of the public,” said Mugabe.
Ralph Mathekga, a fellow at the African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy at the University of Johannesburg, opined that the problem that the Zimbabwean military generals were faced with — which also made it difficult to summarily throw Mugabe out — is that they had no intention of refreshing the political mandate through free and open elections.
“In this case, free and open elections would not guarantee them their continued hold on power. What if their candidate did not succeed? What if the elections were organised by an independent transition body overseen by the global community?
Those are some of the uncertainties they would have taken into account in the manner they removed Mugabe,” said Mathekga.