Zimbabwe war vets vow to impeach Mugabe as he defies expectations of resignation

President Robert Mugabe meets with senior members of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces and police at State House in Harare, Zimbabwe, on November 19, 2017. (ZIMPAPERS/Joseph Nyadzayo/Handout via REUTERS)
Updated 20 November 2017
0

Zimbabwe war vets vow to impeach Mugabe as he defies expectations of resignation

HARARE: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe clung to the vestiges of office on Sunday, using a TV address to maintain he was still in power despite a military takeover and a mounting clamour for his autocratic 37-year rule to end.
“The (ruling ZANU-PF) party congress is due in a few weeks and I will preside over its processes,” Mugabe said, pitching the country into deep uncertainty.
Many Zimbabweans had expected Mugabe, 93, to announce his resignation after the army seized power, opened the floodgates of citizen protest and his once-loyal party told him to quit.
But Mugabe, sitting alongside the uniformed generals who were behind the military intervention, delivered a speech that conveyed he was unruffled by the turmoil.
Speaking slowly and occasionally stumbling as he read from the pages, Mugabe talked of the need for solidarity to resolve national problems — business-as-usual rhetoric that he has deployed over decades.
He made no reference to the chorus for him to resign and shrugged off last week’s dramatic military intervention.
“The operation I have alluded to did not amount to a threat to our well-cherished constitutional order nor did it challenge my authority as head of state, not even as commander in chief,” he said.
Instead he urged harmony and comradeship.
“Whatever the pros and cons of how they (the army) went about their operation, I... do acknowledge their concerns,” said Mugabe.
“We must learn to forgive and resolve contradictions, real or perceived, in a comradely Zimbabwean spirit.”
His address provoked immediate anger, and raised concerns that Zimbabwe could be at risk of a violent reaction to the political turmoil.
“That speech has nothing to do with realities. We will go for impeachment and we are calling people back to the streets,” Chris Mutsvangwa, head of the influential war veterans’ association, told AFP.
It was not immediately clear from his remarks when and where the protests would take place.
On Saturday, in scenes of public elation not seen since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, huge crowds had marched and sang their way through Harare, believing Mugabe was about to step down.

Fired by his party
Highlighting the contradictions in Zimbabwean politics, the ruling ZANU-PF party sacked Mugabe as its leader earlier on Sunday and told him to resign as head of state, naming ousted vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa as the new party chief.
Analysts say the military stepped in last week after Mugabe’s wife Grace, 52, secured prime position to succeed him as president following a bitter power struggle with Mnangagwa, who has close ties to the army.
The majority of Zimbabweans have only known life under Mugabe — the world’s oldest head of state — during a reign defined by violent suppression, economic collapse and international isolation.
Sources suggest Mugabe has been battling to delay his exit and to secure a deal guaranteeing future protection for him and his family.
“What you saw yesterday, it shows that the people have spoken,” Mordecai Makore, 71, a retired teacher told AFP about Saturday’s marches.
“All we want is peace, a good life with a working economy that creates jobs for our people. We will continue praying for that. I want my children and grandchildren to live a normal good life.”
The factional succession race that triggered Zimbabwe’s sudden crisis was between party hard-liner Mnangagwa — known as the Crocodile — and a group called “Generation 40,” or “G40,” because its members are generally younger, which campaigned for Grace’s cause.
The president, who is feted in parts of Africa as the continent’s last surviving independence leader, is in fragile health.
But he previously said he would stand in elections next year that would see him remain in power until he was nearly 100 years old.
He became prime minister on Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in 1980 and then president in 1987.
Zimbabwe’s economic output has halved since 2000 when many white-owned farms were seized, leaving the key agricultural sector in ruins.


Philippine president bolsters security, defense ties with Malaysia

Updated 5 min 11 sec ago
0

Philippine president bolsters security, defense ties with Malaysia

  • Both Southeast Asian leaders have a dented human rights reputation globally although Mahathir has softened his strongman outlook
  • Piracy and armed robbery against ships remains an ongoing issue for leaders in Southeast Asia as oil and supplies worth billions are lost at sea each year

KUALA LUMPUR: President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad reaffirmed to strengthen bilateral defense cooperation when they met for the first time in Putrajaya on Monday.

The meeting took place at the Malaysian Prime Minister’s office, where both strongmen “renewed and reaffirmed the long-standing brotherhood and friendship between the Philippines and Malaysia.”

“President Duterte likewise renewed the commitment to further strengthen defense and security cooperation at the bilateral and regional level,” according to a statement from Duterte’s office.

The two neighbors have enjoyed a good relationship despite the change of government in Malaysia, as the over-60-year rule by the National Front coalition ended abruptly during Malaysia’s elections on May 9.

Both Southeast Asian leaders have a dented human rights reputation globally, although Mahathir has softened his strongman outlook since he was put in power for the second time in May.

The newly formed government led by the world’s oldest leader, Mahathir Mohamad, has vowed to restore the “rule of law” in Malaysia.

Duterte pointed out in his statement “the need to address terrorism and violent extremism in the region, as well as transnational crime such as piracy and armed robbery at sea and the illegal drug trade.”

Piracy and armed robbery against ships in the region remains an ongoing issue for leaders in Southeast Asia as oil and supplies worth billions are lost at sea each year.

Southeast Asia has become a hotbed for Daesh-inspired terrorist activities and threats, and Duterte and Mahathir reaffirmed the need to boost the security and defense ties of both nations in the Southeast Asia region.

Malaysia’s state of Sabah is facing kidnapping threats from the Mindanao-based Abu Sayyaf terrorist group.

In 2017, a large-scale kidnapping plan in Sabah and Central Philippines was uncovered by military intelligence.

The same year, Marawi was under siege from Daesh-inspired militants. The Philippines declared Marawi “liberated” from terrorism. The aftermath cost 1,000 lives with more than 350,000 people in the city displaced.

Meanwhile, Malaysia played an important role when it became the third-party broker of a long-awaited peace deal between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2014.

“President Duterte expressed appreciation for Malaysia’s sustained support for the quest for the just and lasting peace and development in Mindanao,” his official statement said.

Both leaders stressed the need toward “working closely together bilaterally and at ASEAN” in a region of more than 500 million where “greater stability and security in the region” is of the utmost importance.

The two countries are quietly in a land-lock over an 1878 land lease agreement on Sabah since the Federation of Malaysia was officially formed in 1963. Nevertheless, the Philippines’ long-standing claims over Sabah were off the plate during the bilateral discussion between Duterte and Mahathir.

On Sunday night before the meeting, both strongmen enjoyed watching the fight between Philippines’ world-renowned boxer Manny Pacquiao and Argentina’s fighter Lucas Matthysse.