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Africa Committed to Supporting People of Zimbabwe –Zuma


Africa Committed to Supporting People of Zimbabwe –Zuma

President Jacob Zuma of South Africa said on Saturday the African region was committed to “supporting the people of Zimbabwe” after a military takeover.

Zuma made the comments in the South African city of Durban as thousands of Zimbabweans celebrated the expected downfall of President Robert Mugabe in the streets of Harare.

He said he was cautiously optimistic that the situation there could be resolved amicably.

NAN reports that Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party called on Friday for Mugabe to resign, the main state newspaper The Herald, reported — the latest sign that the aging leader’s authority has collapsed after an army takeover.

The newspaper said that ZANU-PF branches in all 10 provinces had met on Friday and had also called for Mugabe’s wife, Grace, whose ambitions to succeed her husband triggered the unfolding political crisis, to resign from the party.

Mugabe appeared in public on Friday for the first time since the army took charge, as the ruling party made plans to force him to step down after almost four decades in power.

The president, who is 93, opened a graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe Open University in Harare.

He wore blue and yellow academic robes and a mortar board hat and appeared to fall asleep in his chair as his eyes closed and his head lolled.

Mugabe led the country’s liberation struggle and has dominated its politics since independence in 1980.

A senior member of the ZANU-PF ruling party said it wanted him gone.

“If he becomes stubborn, we will arrange for him to be fired on Sunday,” the source said.

“When that is done, it’s impeachment on Tuesday.”

The Herald reported that ZANU-PF would convene a special Central Committee meeting on Sunday to “realign the revolutionary party with current political developments.”

The military, which seized power on Wednesday, has so far treated Mugabe carefully.

The military said in a statement on national television it was “engaging” with Mugabe, referred to him as Commander-in-Chief and said it would announce an outcome as soon as possible.

ZANU-PF has also called for a mass meeting in the capital on Saturday to show its support for the war veterans’ group in their bid to remove Mugabe.

The veterans, Mugabe’s former comrades from the liberation war, who enjoyed a privileged position under his rule for decades, had chafed in recent years as his wife Grace positioned herself to succeed him.

They finally turned on him decisively after he sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week.

The Herald newspaper on Friday said that ZANU-PF wanted Mnangagwa reinstated as vice president because he was dismissed “without endorsement of the central committee.”

Many Zimbabweans suspect the military’s plan is to hand over power to Mnangagwa, a long-serving Mugabe confidant and liberation war veteran nicknamed “the Crocodile.”

If so, the generals may be waiting until Mnangagwa can be reinstated as vice president before arranging for Mugabe to resign.

Mugabe is revered as an elder statesman and independence leader, but he is also viewed by many in Africa as a president who crippled his country by remaining in power for too long.

He calls himself the grand old man of African politics.

Zimbabwe’s official newspaper, The Herald, ran photographs late on Thursday showing Mugabe grinning and shaking hands with military chief Gen. Constantino Chiwenga, who led the army takeover.

The images stunned Zimbabweans who said it meant Mugabe was managing to hold out against Chiwenga’s coup.

Some political sources said he was trying to delay his departure until elections scheduled for 2018.

The ZANU-PF source said he would not be able to stay that long.

Anxious to avoid a protracted stalemate, party leaders were drawing up plans to dismiss Mugabe at the weekend if he refused to quit, the source said.

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