President Robert Mugabe was ousted on Sunday as leader of Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party in a decision that will force him to end his 37 years in power, after his government ended in practice four years ago .
Mugabe was replaced with Emmerson Mnangagwa, the vice president recently dismissed by the now-disgraced leader, sources at a special meeting of the ruling ZANU-PF party, which would decide the fate of the president, told Reuters.
“He was expelled,” one of the delegates to the meeting told Reuters. “Mnangagwa is our new leader,” he added.
Mugabe’s wife, Grace, who harbored the ambition to succeed Mugabe, was also expelled from the party. Speaking before the meeting, veteran warlord leader Chris Mutsvangwa said Mugabe, 93, was running out of time to negotiate his departure and should leave the country while he could.
“He is trying to negotiate a decent exit,” he said.
Mutsvangwa also raised the threat of calling for street protests if Mugabe refused to leave, declaring to journalists that “we will bring back the masses and they will do what they have to do”.
Mnangagwa, a former state security chief known as “The Crocodile,” is in line to head an interim unity government that will focus on rebuilding ties abroad and stabilizing an economy that is in free fall.
The Army took control last Wednesday and confined the leader to his residence. On Saturday, tens of thousands of Zimbabweans did not need an official announcement of the expected fall of the president to take to the streets of Harare singing, dancing and embracing the soldiers in a show of euphoria, excited by a possible political and economic change after two decades of repression and growing difficulties.
The only ruler that Zimbabwe has known since independence from the United Kingdom in 1980, Mugabe is admired by some in Africa as a veteran statesman and anti-colonial hero. But many more inside and outside the country see him as a dictator willing to resort to violence to retain power and sink an economy that in the past was promising.