Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe has been holding direct talks with the army over his future, refusing to step down from his post. The sources close to the negotiations say, however, that a deal could be in the works, and that Mugabe could be resigning if a deal for the safety of his family is made.
Pictures emerged of the 93-year-old meeting the army chief and two envoys from the Southern African Development Community at his official residence in Harare. The army put Mugabe under house arrest on Wednesday after moving in to take control. Sources suggest the president, who has been in power for 37 years, is refusing to step down immediately, and considers himself a lawful ruler and wants to see out his mandate.
Photos emerged in the Zimbabwe Herald showing Mugabe meeting army chief General Constantino Chiwenga and the two Sadc envoys at State House in Harare.
— The Herald Zimbabwe (@HeraldZimbabwe) November 16, 2017
Alongside them was Father Fidelis Mukonori, a Roman Catholic priest known to Mugabe for years who has been brought in to mediate. Sources close to the talks say Mugabe is refusing to stand down voluntarily before next year’s planned elections.
“He is refusing to step down. I think he is trying to buy time,” one source close to the army leadership told the AFP news agency.
Zanu-PF officials had earlier suggested Mugabe could remain nominally in power until the party congress in December, when former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa would be formally installed as party and national leader.
South Africa is hosting millions of Zimbabweans who fled after the country’s economy crashed in 2008. It has a special interest in seeing stability restored. South African Defence Minister Nosiviwe Maphisa-Nqakula and State Security Minister Bongani Bongo are the envoys meeting Mugabe on behalf of Sadc, which South Africa currently leads.
Former Zimbabwe Prime Minister returns
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Thursday Mugabe should resign in the interest of the country after the military seized power.
“In the interest of the people, Robert Mugabe must resign and step down immediately,” Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, told a news conference, reading from a statement.
The whereabouts of Grace Mugabe, whose political ambitions prompted the military takeover in Zimbabwe on Tuesday, are not entirely clear.
Reports that the first lady had left for Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, were denied by local authorities. Neither has it been possible to stand up reports placing the 52-year-old second wife of President Mugabe in Botswana, Dubai or Malaysia, where the his family own property.
It seems most likely that the woman dubbed “Gucci Grace” because of her shopping habit is still holed up in the “Blue House”, the sprawling mansion in the upscale Borrowdale neighborhood of Harare, where she lives with the president. She does not appear in any of the pictures of the negotiations.
Guteres: Situation unclear
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has reiterated his call for the military takeover in Zimbabwe to be handled in a peaceful manner in an interview with BBC World.
Well, I never like to see the military involved in politics but I have to recognise it’s a confusing situation. I hope first of all that there is no bloodshed, that this is done peacefully. I hope that will be able to lead to a political and democratic solution and that the next elections that are scheduled are free and fair elections for the people of Zimbabwe to choose their own future.”