Mugabe will continue living in Zimbabwe: Spokesman

Robert Mugabe, the longtime leader of Zimbabwe who was ousted in a military intervention, will continue to live in the country after a new president takes over.
Robert Mugabe, the longtime leader of Zimbabwe who was ousted in a military intervention, will continue to live in the country after a new president takes over. PHOTO: REUTERS

HARARE (NYTIMES) - Robert Mugabe, the longtime leader of Zimbabwe who was ousted in a military intervention last week, will continue to live in the country with his wife, Grace, after a new president takes over, his spokesman said on Thursday (Nov 23).

Mugabe, 93, who has not spoken or appeared in public since resigning as president on Tuesday, does not wish to live anywhere else, his spokesman, George Charamba, said an interview.

"He's Zimbabwean," Charamba said. "Where else would he live?"

Mugabe, who had led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, fell from power after firing Emmerson Mnangagwa, his vice president, early this month and then trying to arrest the nation's top military commander.

With the military's backing, Mnangagwa replaced Mugabe as leader of the governing ZANU-PF party, and he is to be sworn in as Zimbabwe's president Friday.

Last week, Zimbabwe's military commanders placed Mugabe and his wife under house arrest - the culmination of a power struggle that had pitted Grace Mugabe and her political allies against Mnangagwa and the military. While Zimbabweans cheered the end of Mugabe's 37-year-rule, most citizens and politicians have reserved their harshest criticism for Grace Mugabe, 52, who had eliminated rivals in an attempt to succeed her husband.

In the past week, the Mugabes have been meeting with military officials to negotiate their future, along with Charamba, a Roman Catholic priest and a few other individuals acting as mediators. According to the constitution, a president does not have immunity after leaving office. The Mugabes are believed to have accumulated vast wealth in Zimbabwe as well as in the Middle East and Asia.

Charamba said that the issue of immunity had not come up during the talks. Col. Overson Mugwizi, a spokesman for the military, denied news reports that it had guaranteed immunity for Mugabe.

There have been few calls in the political class to treat Mugabe harshly. Perhaps because of the central role Mugabe has played in the nation's history and his advanced age.

Charamba said that Mugabe would not attend the swearing-in ceremony of his successor on Friday.

"Emotions and feelings are running high," he said. "It's important for us not to expose a 93-year-old man to that."