The veteran leader arrived at the Harare Open University in a blue-and-yellow gown, accompanied by his security detail, two days after being placed under house arrest in Wednesday’s military takeover.
Speculation has swirled over whether a deal has been reached to squeeze the 93-year-old leader out of power, after 37 years of rule. Mugabe appears to have been resisting attempts to oust him, and CNN understands he has pushed back on a deal to replace him with an interim leader.
Military leaders have been desperate not to be seen as mounting an unconstitutional coup, and by allowing him to attend the graduation ceremony, appeared to be an attempt to show that Mugabe was permitted to move freely.
Talks underway: No outcome has yet been announced of talks between Mugabe and military leaders after Wednesday’s apparent coup.
No sign of Mnangagwa: The powerful former vice president has strong support within the military but has not been seen since the military takeover.
Takeover planned: Secret discussions between Mugabe’s party members and the opposition took place “a long time ago,” an opposition leader tells CNN
A statement from the Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF) released early Friday said that military leaders were “currently engaging” with Mugabe and would advise the nation of the outcome as soon as possible.
The statement, which was read on state television, said the ZDF had made “significant progress” in its operation to apprehend “criminals” around Mugabe, the justification it used for its overnight military takeover Wednesday.
Mugabe, who has ruled the country since its independence in 1980, is still — nominally, at least — head of state. He appeared in photos published in local media Thursday, speaking with army leader Commander General Constantino Chiwenga at Zimbabwe’s State House.
It was the first time Mugabe had been seen since the military took control of key institutions, and placed the aging leader under house arrest. Mugabe’s wife, Grace Mugabe, however, has not been seen since the apparent coup.
Political maneuvering by the couple to position Grace as Mugabe’s heir apparent is at the heart of the political tumult in the southern African country. Last week Mugabe dismissed Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former ally, prompting Mnangagwa’s military allies to act.
Opposition: Takeover planned ‘a long time ago’
As Zimbabweans watch and wait to see if Mugabe will stand aside, CNN has learned that plans to take over the country by force have been in place for some time — and that Mnangagwa was instrumental in those plans.
“This takeover was planned a long time ago by Emmerson Mnangagwa and secret discussions did take place with opposition about a succession plan including forcing out Mugabe,” a senior opposition leader with direct knowledge of the talks told CNN.
“What you saw yesterday at State House was acting,” the source said, referring to the images that were published of Mugabe speaking with military chiefs.
The source said that Mnangagwa’s hand was forced, and the plan was put into action, when Grace Mugabe appeared to become a front runner in succeeding her husband.
Tsvangirai: Mugabe has ‘lost all power’
Tsvangirai, who served as prime minister under a power-sharing deal with Mugabe after a disputed election in 2008 until 2013, called on Mugabe to resign Thursday, but was cautious in public about his future role.
“I think it would appear that he’s lost all power,” Tsvangirai told CNN.
“The military said it’s not a coup. Not a military takeover. What I can say is that it’s unconstitutional. (However) you want to describe it, it’s unconstitutional because you can’t force a change of government by any means other than through the ballot box.”
A source within Tsvangirai’s MDC told CNN earlier that transition talks were underway, claiming that the embattled President’s exit was a “done deal.”
“There is a transition of power underway and it has tacit agreement from regional powers,” the source told CNN.
Not too long ago, Mugabe’s presidential guard would have died defending their leader. But this week CNN saw several Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) stationed outside their headquarters in Harare — a clear sign that the military is hemming them in.
Local papers reported that plans were underway for a transitional government, and that it was “business as usual” in the country.
The military has denied that the events of the week amount to a military takeover, but residents were still unclear as to what type of rule they’d be living under.
“We don’t know what is happening,” one man told CNN. “What we know is that the soldiers are in control.”
Zimbabweans are cautious, but hopeful that, after almost four decades of often brutal rule, Mugabe — who has ruled for longer than many of his countrymen have been alive — could be coming to an end.
“As far as people are concerned they didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Tsvangirai said.
Another Zimbabwean CNN spoke to said that Mugabe should leave office, and end the economic ruination of the African country once known as Africa’s breadbasket.
“We need a new president,” he said, peering through his car’s window. “We need bread and butter.”
Source : http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/edition_world/~3/YfSLwyM19x0/index.html
Publish Date : 17 November 2017 | 11:39 am