As Mugabe clings to power, resignation letter reportedly ready


Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe agreed to stand down after 37 years in power, CNN reported on Monday, after he avoided any mention of resignation in a rambling national address on Sunday.

A resignation letter has been drafted, CNN said, citing sources familiar with his negotiations with the generals who seized power in Harare last week.

Under the terms of the deal, Mugabe and his wife Grace would be granted full immunity, CNN said.

Pressure was now mounting from all sides on the 93-year-old, the only leader Zimbabwe has known since independence in 1980, to swiftly end the confusion that has gripped the country since the de facto coup last Wednesday.

Mugabe stunned Zimbabweans in a rambling late night Sunday television address avoiding any mention of resignation, pledging instead to preside over a congress next month of ZANU-PF, which sacked him as its leader only hours earlier.

Moments after Mugabe’s address, war veterans’ leader Chris Mutsvangwa told Reuters they would lead public protests in the streets of Harare.

Mugabe was also given a deadline of noon Monday to stand down or the ruling ZANU-PF will begin impeachment proceedings against him.

Parliament does not sit on Mondays so any impeachment would have to wait until Tuesday, although a vote may not necessarily take place the same day.

Two senior government sources told Reuters Mugabe agreed to resign but did not know details of his departure.

There has been speculation he read the wrong speech in his live television address or skipped passages about standing down.

ZANU-PF’s central committee earlier named Emmerson Mnangagwa as its new leader. It was Mugabe’s sacking of Mnangagwa as his vice-president — paving the way for his wife Grace to succeed him — that triggered the army to seize control.

On Saturday, hundreds of thousands took to the streets of Harare to celebrate Mugabe’s expected downfall and hail a new era for their country.

Huge crowds in Harare gave a quasi-democratic veneer to the army’s intervention, backing the assertion it was merely effecting a constitutional transfer of power, rather than a plain coup, which would risk a diplomatic backlash.

Armoured vehicles manned by soldiers were still stationed on some street corners in the capital on Monday.