Zimbabwe’s parliament which is dominated by a ZANU-PF super-majority has begun impeachment proceedings against President Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe was expected to resign during a televised address on Sunday, but instead clung on to power after reading a speech which did not acknowledge the demands of ZANU-PF elite and the Zimbabwean army.
Today, ZANU-PF issued a new ultimatum, demanding that Mugabe leave office within 24 hours. The party has already stripped the long serving Zimbabwean leader of his status as party leader while his wife Grace who was tipped to replace Mugabe upon his death or retirement, has reportedly fled the country.
Shortly after impeachment proceedings commenced, the Speaker of Zimbabwe’s parliament stated that he received Robert Mugabe’s formal letter of resignation.
According to the AFP, as cited by Sputnik,
Mr. Mugabe wrote in his letter,
“I Robert Gabriel Mugabe in terms of section 96 of the constitution of Zimbabwe hereby formally tender my resignation… with immediate effect”.
Robert Mugabe was President of Zimbabwe since 1987 and had been Prime Minister prior to that, starting in 1980, the year Zimbabwe gained full independence.
Throughout the 1970s, Mugabe led the Maoist Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) in the struggle against the government of Ian Smith, the leader of what was then Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence from Britain in 1965. Smith went on the rule the widely unrecognised state of Rhodesia from 1965 until its collapse in 1979. While in power, Smith presided over a government whose members were compromised overwhelmingly of Rhodesia’s white minority, a situation the black majority found unacceptable.
Mugabe’s ZANU faction was rivalled by another black liberation party, Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) led by the Marxist-Leninist Joshua Nkomo. Against the background of the Sino-Soviet rivalry ZANU was favoured by China while ZAPU was favoured by the Soviet Union with Smiths’ government winning favour almost exclusively from South Africa as well as right wing politicians in Britain, Australia, Canada and the United States.
In 1979, Britain held talks between all sides in what led to the Lancaster House Agreement. This agreement temporarily brought what by then was called Zimbabwe-Rhodesia back under British rule as Southern Rhodesia, before fully gaining independence as Zimbabwe in 1980.
Mugabe became the first Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, working with both his black pro-Soviet rival Nkomo as well as Ian Smith who under the terms set out in the new constitution, was able to retain a bloc of seats in the parliament specifically designated for the white minority. In 1983, Mugabe had his penultimate falling out with Nkomo, who later fled the country.
In 1987, Smith whose relationship with Mugabe became increasingly tense, stepped down as the leader of the white opposition movement, the Conservative Alliance of Zimbabwe..
That same year Mugabe moved from the office of Prime Minister to President, in an increasingly strong presidential system, as opposed to the previous parliamentary driven government.
In the subsequent years, Mugabe instigated his land reform programme which saw the private holdings of white farmers transferred to black ownership. The move proved deeply unpopular with the white minority, but won Mugabe acclaim in both Zimbabwe and among the black population of Apartheid South Africa.