Zimbabwe’s ousted vice president has warned Robert Mugabe to respect public opinion and step down – and said he would only return home when his security was assured.
Emmerson ‘Crocodile’ Mnangagwa said that the country has ‘spoken with one voice’ and said the 93-year-old should step down so that Zimbabwe can ‘move forward’.
Mnangagwa, who is widely expected to take over after Mr Mugabe is removed, has turned down an invitation to meet with the dictator.
It comes as it emerged that the despot has been left isolated and humiliated after his demands for ministers to attend his weekly cabinet meeting were dismissed.
Zimbabwe’s ousted vice president Emmerson ‘Crocodile’ Mnangagwa (right) has warned Robert Mugabe (left) to respect public opinion and step down – and said he would only return home when his security was assured
Yesterday, the head of the army, Commander General Constantino Chiwenga (pictured), said Mr Mugabe and Mr Mnangagwa were going to meet ‘soon’
University of Zimbabwe’s students took part in a demonstration in Harare yesterday, to demand the withdrawal of Grace Mugabe’s doctorate. They have refused to sit their exams as pressure builds on Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe to resign
It came after the party secretary, Simon Khaya, told reporters that Mr Mugabe had been formally notified of Zanu-PF’s decision to impeach him.
Mnangagwa said that he remained outside the country for his own safety, despite reports that he had already returned to Zimbabwe.
‘Mugabe made contact with me and invited me to return home for a discussion on the current political events in the nation, he said.
‘I told the President that I would not return home now until I am satisfied of my personal security.’
He added: ‘I told the President that the current political and constitutional crisis in the country is not a matter between him and myself but between the people of Zimbabwe and President Mugabe.’
An ally of Mr Mugabe hit back by taunting the army, claiming that he had safely fled the country along with 50 other members of the G40 group of Grace Mugabe’s allies.
Mugabe had been widely expected to resign on Sunday during a speech in Harare. But watched by a cabal of general who have been holding him under house arrest, he instead went off script and vowed to stay on
Zimbabwe’s Commander Airforce and Air Marshal Perence Shiri (left) arrives to shake hands with Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe (right) as Roman Catholic Priest Father Fidelis Mukonori (centre) stands next to them last night
Jonathan Moyo, the higher education minister, was thought to have been arrested when the army seized control.
Yesterday, the head of the army, Commander General Constantino Chiwenga, said Mr Mugabe and Mr Mnangagwa were going to meet ‘soon’.
The two men have not met since Mr Mnangagwa was sacked by Mr Mugabe in an attempt to clear the way for his wife, Grace, to succeed him.
The impeachment process was due to be put into action in parliament today and is expected to last at least until Thursday.
Opposition politicians are due to meet today to decide whether they will join the Zanu-PF in supporting the impeachment motion in parliament.
Yesterday, several senior opposition ministers said they would boycott the vote in retaliation for the Zanu-PF boasting that it did not need their help.
At the University of Zimbabwe on Monday, students protested and refused to sit for exams, singing and demanding that Mugabe step down. The spokesman for the Zimbabwe National Students Union, Zivai Mhetu, said they want all universities shut down until he does
Protest: A man holding a flag of Zimbabwe takes part in a demonstration of University of Zimbabwe’s students yesterday morning
But a prominent critic of Mugabe, pastor Patrick Mugadza, warned that they would lose public support if they played politics with the issue.
Christopher Mutsvangwa, the chairman of the war veterans’ association, invited Zimbabweans to take to the streets in support of the impeachment today.
Yesterday, activists were drawing up plans to march on the dictator’s Blue Roof mansion as they continued to mobilise grassroots networks to keep up the pressure on the 93-year-old dictator.
If the protest goes ahead, it will be an unprecedented demonstration of confidence by a population that has been oppressed for almost 40 years.
The Blue Roof estate has always been heavily protected by the security services and even photographing it is forbidden in Zimbabwe’s constitution on pain of imprisonment.
On Saturday, Mr Mutsvangwa told MailOnline that he army had threatened to withdraw protection from Blue Roof and allow Mr Mugabe to be lynched.
Zimbabweans sing and pray, one holding a placard asking Jesus to have mercy on President Robert Mugabe, at a Christian peace and prayer rally in Harare
Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF will discuss the impeachment of President Robert Mugabe on Monday, its chief whip said, after a noon deadline expired for the 93-year-old to resign and bring the curtain down on nearly four decades in power. Pictured: Students march in Harare yesterday
But in a statement yesterday, he said that legal attempts were underway to declare the military takeover a ‘lawful and justified’ action intended to defend the constitution.
Mr Mugabe was no longer able to defend the interests of the nation as his wife and her associates, known as the G40 group, had gradually taken over the levers of power, Mr Mutsvangwa said.
Anti-Mugabe leaders are concerned that the takeover is seen as a legitimate operation and not a military coup. Many states would not recognise a government installed by an armed uprising as it would may provide a precedent that would destabilise the region.
Church leaders announced an open-air prayer meeting in central Harare today and encouraged Mr Mugabe to attend, though this seems unlikely.
Examinations at the University of Zimbabwe were abandoned yesterday after students demanded that Mr Mugabe be removed as university Chancellor and his wife be stripped of her doctorate.
Yesterday, the 93-year old former Zambian president, Kenneth Kaunda, touched down in Zimbabwe on a private jet to convince his fellow nonagenarian to step down.