Mugabe’s end game: How the president could leave power

Zimbabwe’s ruling party ZANU-PF sacked President Robert Mugabe as party leader Sunday marking the accelerating collapse of the 93-year-old’s support and power base.

Following mass demonstrations calling for him to go, negotiations between Mugabe and the army resumed to plot the end of the president’s regime after the army seized power earlier this week.

Here are some of the possible routes by which Mugabe could leave power:

Resignation

Article 96 of Zimbabwe’s constitution says that the president can resign if they submit a letter to the parliament speaker who must publicly announce it within 24 hours.

Resignation would be the fastest, simplest and least risky way for Mugabe to leave power — but he has resisted calls to step down since the crisis began.

During his first meeting on Thursday with the army general who led the military takeover, he bluntly refused to step aside.

Another sticking point for this formula is political. The constitution says that in the event of a presidential resignation, he will be replaced by the vice president.

But the military’s preferred candidate to succeed Mugabe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was removed as vice president last week.

There is however a second vice president — Phelekeza Mphoko — who was loyal to First Lady Grace Mugabe who would be elevated as president — something the army would want to avoid.

The army would first have to persuade Mugabe to reappoint Mnangagwa.


Impeachment

The National Assembly and the Senate can start proceedings to remove the president if both pass simple majority votes against the head of state in cases of “serious misconduct”, “failure to obey, uphold or defend (the) constitution”, “violation” of the constitution or “incapacity”.

Once the votes are passed, the two chambers must then appoint a joint committee to investigate removing the president. 

If the commission recommends impeachment, the president can be removed from office once both houses back it with two-thirds majorities, according to section 97 of Zimbabwe’s constitution.

The vast majority of elected ZANU-PF representatives, like the opposition, are now in favour of removing Mugabe — but the process could be slow.

And like the resignation route, it would currently result in Mphoko becoming head of state.

Forcing him out 

The military seized power late on Tuesday night but have been at pains to give the impression of obeying the law and have sought to play down suggestions that their intervention amounted to a coup.

“We wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover… We are only targeting criminals around him (Mugabe),” said Major General Sibusiso Moyo as he read a statement justifying the army’s actions on state TV in the early hours of Wednesday.

The African Union and the Southern African Development Community regional bloc have warned the army not to try to remove Mugabe by illegal means.

The generals appear to have headed their warnings and have instead pushed for dialogue with Mugabe while putting pressure on him by supporting the mass protests against the embattled president. 

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Agence France Presse
Agence France Presse works from worldwide. AFP Photo's official Twitter account. Tweeting news and features from Agence France-Presse's global photo network Agence France Presse has over 120540 followers on Twitter.
Advertising

Where is the deputy president?

David Mabuza is hard at work — it’s just not taking place in the public eye. The rumblings and discussion in the ANC are about factions in the ruling party, succession and ousting him

Zuma turns on judiciary as trial nears

Former president says pre-trial correspondence is part of another plot

High court declares Dudu Myeni delinquent

Disgraced former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni has been declared a delinquent director by the...

SANDF inquiry clears soldiers of the death of Collins Khosa

The board of inquiry also found that it was Khosa and his brother-in-law Thabiso Muvhango who caused the altercation with the defence force members
Advertising

Press Releases

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

Openview, now powered by two million homes

The future of free-to-air satellite TV is celebrating having two million viewers by giving away two homes worth R2-million

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday