Zimbabwe's ruling party turns against Robert Mugabe, calls for him to resign ahead of march

Zimbabwe's ruling party turns against Robert Mugabe, calls for him to resign ahead of march

Zimbabwe's ruling party turns against Robert Mugabe, calls for him to resign ahead of march

Updated 18 November 2017, 16:05 AEDT

Zimbabwe state media says the country's ruling ZANU-PF party has called for President Robert Mugabe to resign, in the latest sign that the aging leader's authority has collapsed after an army takeover.

Zimbabwe state media is reporting that the country's ruling ZANU-PF party has called for President Robert Mugabe to resign, in the latest sign that the aging leader's authority has collapsed after an army takeover.

Key points:

  • ZANU-PF branches in all 10 provinces call for Mr Mugabe's wife Grace to resign from the party
  • They have also demanded reinstatement of former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa
  • A "solidarity march" has been planned in the capital on Saturday

The Herald newspaper said ZANU-PF branches in all 10 provinces had met on Friday and passed no-confidence votes in the 93-year-old Mr Mugabe.

It also said that all had called for Mr Mugabe's wife Grace, 52, to resign from the party.

ZANU-PF said in a statement to The Herald that it was "engaging with Mr Mugabe on the way forward and will advise the nation of the outcome as soon as possible".

The provinces also demanded the reinstatement of former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, saying he was dismissed without endorsement of the central committee, according to The Herald.

Mr Mugabe is still clinging to office despite facing overwhelming pressure to step down after the military put him under house arrest this week.

Yesterday, he was briefly allowed outside to attend a university graduation ceremony in the capital.

Mr Mugabe did not make a speech at the ceremony, merely announcing its opening to applause, and appeared to be asleep for part of the event.

Mugabes have a long-standing feud with 'The Crocodile'

Mr Mnangagwa, a 71-year-old veteran of the 1970s war of independence, was seen for many years as Mr Mugabe's anointed successor.

But his position was challenged three years ago when Grace Mugabe rose through the ranks of ZANU-PF, becoming a leading member of a party faction that is pushing for older members to be replaced.

The military stepped into the factional battles of the ruling party on Wednesday after the firing of Mr Mnangagwa, also known as "Ngwena" or "The Crocodile", who is close to the armed forces and was heavily criticised by both Mugabes.

Mr Mnangagwa, who fled Zimbabwe after his dismissal, will return only after the process to remove Mr Mugabe is complete, high-level supporters told The Associated Press.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to reporters about the matter.

The regional branches quoted by the Herald said the party should "convene a special Central Committee meeting in two days to realign the revolutionary party with current political developments".

In another sign of Mr Mugabe's waning influence, demonstrations in support of the military's move have been called for later today (Saturday) in Harare.

ZANU-PF called a mass meeting in the capital to show its support for the influential War Veterans group, which wants to remove Mr Mugabe.

The military said it supported plans for a "solidarity march" as long as the demonstration was orderly and peaceful.

Ahead of the planned demonstration, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she is closely monitoring the situation in Zimbabwe.

"It is volatile. Politics in Zimbabwe has been volatile for a very long time but President Mugabe has presided over the demise of Zimbabwe as a strong economic player in southern Africa and I note that there are calls for him to stand down," she said.

"We understand that the military has secured parts of Harare and that President Mugabe had been in detention, although I understand he's moving more freely now.

"We have altered our travel advisory, suggesting that people should reconsider their need to travel."

Discontent with Mr Mugabe has been growing because of the dire state of the economy, concerns about corruption and mismanagement, a sense that he is no longer physically capable of leading the country due to advanced age and the ambitions of his wife to succeed him.

AP/Reuters