Zimbabwe's ex-President Robert Mugabe slams ruling party on election eve

In his first speech since stepping down as president, Mugabe has said he "cannot" vote for his successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, in Monday's landmark election. He spoke of having been "tormented" before his ouster.

Zimbabwe's former leader Robert Mugabe said on Sunday he would not be voting for his successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, in the country's upcoming election, claiming that the current government was unconstitutional. 

Politics | 22.11.2017

 "I will not vote for those who have illegally taken power," he told reporters from his private residence in the capital, Harare. "I hope the choice of voting tomorrow will throw, thrust away the military government and bring us back to constitutionality."

In his speech, which was described by several news agencies as "rambling," he blamed "evil and malicious characters" for his ousting, and said he resigned to avoid "bloodshed."

Mugabe's downfall came in November 2017 after the central committee of the ruling ZANU-PF party removed him as party leader and appointed Mnangagwa to take over. Mugabe's ouster after 37 years in power was celebrated by thousands in the streets of Harare.

Mugabe's resignation received a joyous reception in parliament

'Utter nonsense'

The 94-year-old Mugabe had been accused of being too old to rule and allowing his wife, Grace, to "usurp" power. On Sunday, he slammed as "utter nonsense" the idea that he had wanted her to take over from him.

Mugabe speech came after months of silence and less than 24 hours before a historic presidential election takes place in the southern African nation — the first without him since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980. It was his first national address since resigning from power. 

Mnangagwa is Zimbabwe's former intelligence chief

End of an era

Mugabe, whose rule of Zimbabwe became increasingly repressive over the years, called for a "democratic constitution" and the people's freedom to speak. He also urged voters to accept the result, saying: "Whoever wins, we wish him well ... And let us accept the verdict."

Mnangagwa, 75, faces opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, 40, of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe's landmark vote. Opinion polls, which are considered largely unreliable, have shown Mnangagwa with a slim lead.

kw/tj (AP, AFP, Reuters)

The week that changed Zimbabwe

Mnangagwa, Grace Mugabe go head to head

In November, Robert Mugabe dismissed his vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, after accusing him of "plotting a coup against the government." Some Zimbabweans feared Mugabe was grooming his wife, Grace Mugabe, to take over in the event of his death.

The week that changed Zimbabwe

Chiwenga's warning

On November 13, 2017, General Constantino Chiwenga, commander of Zimbabwe's Defense Force, warned that the army could "step in" to save the country from political tension and economic crisis.

The week that changed Zimbabwe

Tanks in Harare

Military and armored vehicles were seen at the outskirts of Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, on November 14, 2017. On the same day, the military also took over the state-run broadcaster ZBC.

The week that changed Zimbabwe

Mugabe safe in army hands

On November 15, 2017, Major General SB Moyo, the military spokesman, announced on the ZBC that Mugabe and his family were "safe and sound and their security was guaranteed." He said the military was targeting "criminals around" Mugabe who were "committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering."

The week that changed Zimbabwe

A 'smiling' Mugabe meets Chiwenga

On November 16, 2017, General Constantino Chiwenga, along with other officials, was seen in military uniform meeting President Robert Mugabe (C) at the State House. It was reported that Mugabe was smiling as they both shook hands. However, the leaders of ZANU-PF announced that there was "no going back."

The week that changed Zimbabwe

Mugabe puts in a public appearance

After being placed under house arrest, Mugabe appeared publicly at a university graduation ceremony on November 17, 2017. Here, a military officer adjusts a chair for Mugabe, who is dressed in a blue-and-yellow academic gown, to sit on after arriving to preside over the ceremony. Mugabe, who was reportedly tired, was then caught falling asleep.

The week that changed Zimbabwe

Zimbabweans call on Mugabe to go

On November 18, 2017, residents of the capital, Harare, held a protest with anti-Mugabe placards demanding the president's resignation. Veterans of the independence war, activists and ruling party leaders called publicly for Mugabe to be forced from office.

The week that changed Zimbabwe

Mugabe ousted from ZANU-PF leadership

Zimbabwean War Veterans leader Chris Mutsvangwa (R) arrived at a meeting of the ruling ZANU-PF party in Harare November 19, 2017. After hours of deliberation, the party announced that it had decided to fire Mugabe as leader of the party.

The week that changed Zimbabwe

Mugabe does not step down

Many expected that after being recalled as ZANU-PF party leader, President Mugabe would use his address to the nation resign with dignity. Zimbabweans were left shocked after the rambling speech made no reference to him stepping down. Mugabe now faces impeachment, with proceedings believed to be starting on Tuesday.

The week that changed Zimbabwe

End of an era

Rather than face impeachment proceedings, Robert Mugabe prompted dancing in the streets of Harare when he resigned on November 22. "My decision to resign is voluntary on my part and arises from my concern for the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and my desire for a smooth, non-violent transfer of power," the 93-year-old said in a letter.

The week that changed Zimbabwe

Euphoria in Harare

Supporters of Emmerson Mnangagwa celebrate the end of four decades under Mugabe. Mnangagwa was joined by cheering crowds after he returned to Zimbabwe from exile in neighboring South Africa. He is expected to be sworn in on November 24.

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