Zimbabwe House begins motion to impeach Mugabe

Zimbabwe Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda presides over a session where a motion was moved to impeach President Robert Mugabe on November 21, 2017 in Harare. PHOTO | AFP 

Zimbabwe’s parliament on Tuesday began impeachment proceedings against President Robert Mugabe as pressure mounted on the veteran ruler to resign.

President Mugabe has been under house arrest since November 14 when the military seized control of government.

Street protests and an internal revolt in the ruling Zanu-PF party have left the 93-year-old ruler fighting for political survival with long-time allies switching allegiances to ousted Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda told MPs on Tuesday that the motion to remove President Mugabe was “unprecedented in the history of Zimbabwe”.

Was unanimous

A ruling party legislator, Ms Monica Mutswanga, submitted the motion and was seconded by Mr James Maridadi of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.

A joint session of the National Assembly and Senate was expected to convene later in the day to consider the motion.

At least half or 174 votes are required for the motion to proceed and Zanu-PF, which already enjoys a two thirds majority, was unanimous in calling for the president’s removal.

Advanced age

The opposition has pledged to support the motion. A committee made of nine MPs will be set up to investigate the charges against President Mugabe before reporting back to Parliament.

For the president to be removed from office, at least two thirds or 232 votes are required and that is expected to happen early next week.

The charges against President Mugabe include that “he is of advanced age and no longer has physical capacity to run the country”.

Zanu-PF is also accusing its long-time leader and founder of the party of allowing his wife to “usurp constitutional power when she has no right to run government”.

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“She is insulting civil servants, the vice-president at public rallies and denigrating the army,” the motion reads.

As the MPs set the impeachment process in motion, thousands gathered outside Parliament in Harare, calling for the president to resign.

Former Prime Minister Tsvangirai was one of the opposition leaders who addressed the crowds. Demonstrations are expected on Wednesday to pile pressure on the world’s oldest president.

Mr Mnangagwa, fired over a week ago by President Mugabe but is favoured by the military to takeover, on Tuesday told his former boss to resign immediately or face public humiliation.

Botswana President Ian Khama, in an unprecedented open letter to the beleaguered Zimbabwean leader, also echoed similar sentiments.

“The people of Zimbabwe have for a long time been subjected to untold suffering as a result of poor governance under your leadership,” he wrote in the letter posted on the government’s social media platforms

“It is, therefore, my conviction that by vacating the presidency, this will usher in a new political dispensation that will pave the way for the much needed socio-economic recovery in Zimbabwe.”

President Mugabe also suffered further humiliation on Tuesday when only three ministers turned up for a Cabinet meeting.

Most of his loyalists were in hiding following the military crackdown and those that remain were part of a Zanu-PF meeting on Sunday that voted to fire him from the leadership of the party.

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