HARARE (BLOOMBERG)- The new leader of Zimbabwe's ruling party asked Robert Mugabe to resign as president of the southern African nation.
"The destiny of our country is in the hands of our people and his excellency must heed the call of the people to resign," Emmerson Mnangagwa, who left the country after Mugabe fired him as deputy president earlier this month, said in an emailed statement on Tuesday (Oct 21).
The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front fired Mugabe, 93, on Sunday (Oct 19) and named Mnangagwa as its new leader. Mugabe has made contact with Mnangagwa, who says he won't return to the country "until he is satisfied of his personal security", the new party leader said.
Mugabe triggered his own downfall by firing Mnangagwa, a move that prompted the military to intervene and place him under house arrest. The nation's Parliament is due to reconvene on Tuesday and could impeach him should he remain steadfast in his refusal to resign.
Under Mugabe's watch, the economy has imploded, leaving 95 per cent of the workforce unemployed, according to Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions estimates, and forcing as many as 3 million people into exile. His swift and legal exit will enable the military to implement its plan to install a transitional government until elections can be held, without the risk of outside intervention.
Mugabe's decision to fire his long-time ally could have paved the way for his 52-year-old wife Grace and her supporters from a Zanu-PF faction known as the G-40 to gain control of the nation. Nicknamed "Gucci Grace" in Zimbabwe for her extravagant lifestyle, she said on Nov. 5 that she would be prepared to succeed her husband. The party has now resolved that she should be expelled from its ranks.