Even under house arrest, President Robert Mugabe was still attempting to cling to power Thursday, a day after the military seized control of Zimbabwe. But all signs indicate the former independence hero’s 37-year reign is over.
Generals have confined Mugabe to his residence in Harare, hoping to persuade him to go quietly. The mediation efforts involve a Catholic priest and envoys from South Africa, according to reports.
So far, the 93-year-old is insistent he remains Zimbabwe’s legitimate leader, and should be allowed should serve out the rest of his term, Reuters reported, citing a senior political source.
But the president is likely just delaying the inevitable, amid claims the military is in talks with leaders from across the political divide for a new administration, one that includes the opposition and has the backing of regional allies.
CNN quoted a senior member of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party, who said such an arrangement was “a done deal,” and that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had returned to the capital from receiving cancer treatment overseas following the coup.
Mugabe hasn’t spoken or appeared publicly since the takeover, which followed tensions between his former deputy, vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, and First Lady Grace Mugabe over who should succeed the president.
Mnangagwa, a former guerrilla and spymaster known as “the Crocodile,” was sacked last week for disloyalty for Mugabe. The head of the military, a close ally of Mnangagwa, had warned the army would step in if the “purge” of former freedom fighters in the ruling ZANU-PF party continued.
In another bad sign for Mugabe, his close ally, South African President Jacob Zuma, has not condemned the takeover, but merely called for a return to “peace and stability.” And on Wednesday, Kudzai Chipanga, leader of the ZANU-PF youth wing and a close ally of Grace Mugabe, made a televised apology to the head of the military for having criticized him ahead of the coup.