20 November 2017

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Stunner

Photo: The Herald
Presidential Spokesperson George Charamba and President Robert Mugabe (file photo).

President Robert Mugabe was unconcerned with the massive demonstration held this Saturday where Zimbabweans asked him to step down as he reportedly spent the day enjoying mealies and discussing history with an unnamed friend.

The massive protest was called by war veterans and backed by the army; it saw Mugabe's portraits being desecrated. The demonstration followed a military takeover of power last Wednesday.

The army claimed it was not a coup but a "mission" meant to fumigate the ruling party of criminal elements who surrounded the president and were frustrating economic development by prioritising factional fights.

According to Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, the veteran leader was unconcerned about the massive outpouring of anger over his leadership.

The information ministry permanent secretary was part of the team representing Mugabe in negotiations with the military last Thursday and this Sunday.

"He was talking about his school days in the 1930s and anthropology and how it impacted on the colonial perception of Africans and their intellect," said Charamba.

"In the midst of such a highly charged intellectual conversation, we were munching maize," he said. "Oh my God, he was very upbeat and chatty."

Charamba, who was part of Mugabe's negotiating team in talks with the military, made the revelations in an interview with the UK-based Financial Times.

Many senior ruling party politicians and government ministers have been under house arrest since Wednesday's intervention by the military.

Although Mugabe has been under the watchful eye of the military, he officiated a university graduation last Friday and addressed the nation this Sunday, a move seen by analysts as meant to convince the world that the military had not usurped power.

However, even worse, Charamba described the march in tens of thousands participated as mere atmospherics.

Mere atmospherics

"The principle action, the Hamlet of this drama, is the president and the soldiers. Certainly, it was a protest rally, you can't run away from that," he said, insisting, "What we see in the streets is just atmospherics."

According to Charamba, who at one point was himself undressed by the president's wife, Grace, for propping up the Lacoste faction, Mugabe will not resign because the people have demanded that he must go.

The interview took place before a meeting of Zanu PF's central committee and Mugabe's subsequent live television address, highly anticipated to be his last as the world believed he had given in to pressure and decided to resign.

The central committee fired both Mugabe and his wife, along with 19 key Zanu PF members on charges of fanning divisions.

Charamba said the plotters of the "coup" were not after Mugabe but a young generation of ambitious Zanu PF members who were isolating Mugabe from his war time friends.

To show the army still has respect, Charamba said, "When he (Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantino Chiwenga) got in, he saluted his president. They are not challenging the president's authority, they are not challenging the president's role."

"There was a growing feeling that the president was getting estranged from his wartime colleagues and that the whole notion of wartime struggle was now under threat."

While Mugabe insisted he was still in power and indicated he would preside over Zanu PF's December congress, the party is believed to be continuing with the process of replacing him as government leader too.

Officials said impeachment proceedings would begin if the veteran leader does not step down by Monday noon.

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