Zimbabwe’s embattled leader Robert Mugabe on late Sunday night failed to announce his resignation as widely expected in a national address on live television, vowed to stay in power.
Rumors were swirling before he spoke that Mugabe would resign the presidency.
But in his stumbling, 20-minute address, Mugabe made no mention of the deafening calls, from the public and from his own party, to stand down as president.
Instead, the 93-year-old autocrat said that “we cannot be guided by bitterness or revengefulness which would not makes us any better … Zimbabweans”
He declared that the military had done nothing wrong, by seizing power, and placing him under house arrest earlier in the week.
“Today’s meeting with the command element has underscored the need for us to collectively start processes that return our nation to normalcy. So that all our people can go about their business unhindered, in an environment of perfect peace and security,” he said.
Then he implied he would remain Zimbabwe’s leader at least until next month’s ruling Zanu-PF congress, ignoring the fact that earlier he was stripped of any official role within the party.
Zanu-PF earlier sacked him as party leader, and gave him less than 24 hours to resign as president or be impeached.
He did acknowledge failings, and factionalism in the government and party but made no mention of his wife, Grace, who was expelled from the party.
Mugabe, who repeatedly cited the legacy of Zimbabwe’s brutal liberations wars of the 1970s, said he believed that the military “operation” launched last Tuesday by army commanders was motivated by “a deep patriotic concern for the stability of the nation” and “did not amount to a threat to our well-cherished constitutional order”.
“I am aware that many developments have occurred in the party, given the failings of the past, and anger they might have triggered in some quarters …. [but] I am confident that from tonight our whole nation will put shoulder to the wheel,” Mugabe said.
During his address, Mugabe was flanked by various uniformed members of the armed forces. While speaking, he shuffled his papers and at times seemed to lose his place, prompting him to apologize at the end.
“It was a long speech,” Mugabe said, before receiving tepid applause by those sitting next to him. Minutes later he stood up and shook hands with members of the armed forces.
His grip on power has weakened since the military intervened on Wednesday, in a row over who should succeed him.
The crisis began when Mugabe sacked his deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, two weeks ago, angering army commanders who saw it as an attempt to position his wife as his successor.
Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since its independence from Britain in 1980.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :