Robert Mugabe will be impeached Tuesday – unless he bows to pressure and quits before then – after delivering a rambling TV address Sunday in which he refused to resign.
A noon (5 a.m. ET) deadline set by his ZANU-PF party for the Zimbabwean president to step down passed Monday, meaning the 93-year-old leader will face an impeachment vote when parliament reconvenes Tuesday.
According to one report, it may not come to that. CNN reported Monday that Mugabe has agreed to the terms of his exit, and a letter of resignation has been drafted, citing a source with knowledge of the talks.
The source said that the deal would grant full immunity to Mugabe and his wife, Grace, whose ambitions to succeed her husband lie at the heart of the current turmoil.
In his first national address since Wednesday’s military takeover, Mugabe veered wildly off-script, surrounded by generals turning each page of his speech. Defying expectations, he made no mention of standing down, saying instead he would preside over a special ZANU-PF congress next month.
Mugabe acknowledged the concerns of the generals who led last week’s military coup, but gave no concessions to those calling for him to depart after 37 years in charge.
Chris Mutsvangwa, head of an influential group of veterans of the country’s liberation war, said Mugabe dropped the part of the speech where he would resign.
“We were disappointed yesterday in the midst of all those generals he appeared to swap [speeches],” he told a press conference on Monday morning.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he was “baffled” by Mugabe’s refusal to step down, even as he was under military house arrest, had been sacked by his ZANU-PF party, and tens of thousands had taken to the streets demanding his resignation.
“He’s playing a game. He has let the whole nation down,” Tsvangirai told Reuters.
Mutsvangwa – whose veterans’ association previously backed Mugabe – said his organization would hold further demonstrations, including outside Mugabe’s residence, if he did not quit.
ZANU-PF controls the National Assembly, meaning an impeachment vote is guaranteed to pass. After firing Mugabe as leader Sunday, ZANU-PF appointed his former Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, as the party’s leader, indicating he will take over following Mugabe’s ouster.