Zimbabwe opposition supports Mugabe removal from power

Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai speaks during a press conference on November 16, 2017 in Harare. PHOTO | AFP 

Zimbabwe’s leading opposition figures on Thursday backed the military’s move to remove President Robert Mugabe as the besieged ruler and the generals continued with their delicate negotiations for him to step down.

Two days after the army announced that it had taken control of the government and put President Mugabe under house arrest, the situation remained tense in the capital Harare.

The 93-year-old ruler, who has been confined to his private home since the early hours of Wednesday, left the heavily guarded residence for the first time at mid-morning Thursday to meet South African President Jacob Zuma’s envoys.

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Details of the discussions and the ongoing negotiations with the generals were not made public, but indications were that no progress had been made in the attempts to ease out Zimbabwe’s only ruler since independence in 1980.

However, on the side-lines, President Mugabe’s former deputy Joice Mujuru, now a leading opposition figure and ex-Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, told journalists that the military takeover was inevitable.

The remarks by the two heightened speculation that they were ready to form a transitional government with ousted Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The transition

Ms Mujuru, who now leads the People’s Rainbow Coalition (PRC), urged Zimbabweans to remain peaceful during the transition.

“The PRC believes that the prevailing developments require participation by all critical stakeholders beyond political actors,” she said.

“There is no doubt that Zimbabwe is in need of a transitional arrangement.”

Mr Tsvangirai appeared to agree with the military that Wednesday’s events did not amount to a coup. He said the generals behind the military takeover had not approached him to be part of any transitional mechanism, but he was willing to listen to them if engaged.

Rule of law

“If we are approached to negotiate such a process, we will participate,” he said, adding that any settlement had to recognise that Zimbabwe was a constitutional democracy.

“As a democrat, I always believe in the rule of law and the international community is watching,” Mr Tsvangirai said.

The Southern African Development Community was meeting in Botswana on Thursday to discuss the Zimbabwean crisis.

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Away from the delicate negotiations over Zimbabwe’s political future, it remained business as usual on the streets of Harare and other cities, as the military tried to ensure the situation remained peaceful.

Police roadblocks that had become a common feature on the country’s roads were not visible and civil servants were being urged to continue reporting for work.

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