In the latest episode in Zimbabwe’s unfolding drama, die-hard leader Robert Mugabe has been dismissed as leader of Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party. His wife Grace was also expelled and stripped of the leadership of the women’s wing of the party.
The decisions were taken on Sunday in a move to force a peaceful end to his 37 years in power following a de facto military coup.
He was replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa, the deputy he sacked this month, sources at a special ZANU-PF meeting to decide Mugabe’s fate told Reuters.
“He has been expelled,” one of the delegates said. “Mnangagwa is our new leader.”
Mugabe’s wife Grace, who had harbored ambitions of succeeding Mugabe, was also expelled from the party.
Speaking before the meeting, war veterans’ leader Chris Mutsvangwa said the 93-year-old Mugabe was running out of time to negotiate his departure and should leave the country while he could.
“He’s trying to bargain for a dignified exit,” he said.
Mutsvangwa followed up with threat to call for street protests if Mugabe refused to go, telling reporters: “We will bring back the crowds and they will do their business.”
Mnangagwa, a former state security chief known as “The Crocodile,” is now in line to head an interim post-Mugabe unity government that will focus on rebuilding ties with the outside world and stabilizing an economy in freefall.
On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of people flooded the streets of Harare, singing, dancing and hugging soldiers in an outpouring of elation at Mugabe’s expected overthrow.
His stunning downfall in just four days is likely to send shockwaves across Africa, where a number of entrenched strongmen, from Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni to Democratic Republic of Congo’s Joseph Kabila, are facing mounting pressure to quit.