Members of Zimbabwe’s parliament have launched an impeachment motion against President Robert Mugabe as he continues to defy calls for resignation over abuse of power.
Lawmakers started the impeachment proceedings against Mugabe on Tuesday, a day after a deadline expired for him to cede power over accusations of his wife’s “usurping of constitutional power”.
Mugabe has been effectively under house arrest for nearly two weeks, his party Zanu-PF has sacked him from leadership while reports suggest senior domestic and regional figures are negotiating a soft exit from power for the 93-year-old.
The impeachment process that began in the noon session of the Zimbabwean parliament should lead to Mugabe being stripped of power within two days. The two chambers of the parliament, namely the House of Assembly and the Senate, were allowed to convene a joint session to debate the impeachment. The parliament then could remove Mugabe from office by Wednesday.
Zimbabwe's constitution allows impeachment of the president under circumstances where the leader is accused of "serious misconduct", "violation" of the constitution or "failure to obey, uphold or defend" it, or "incapacity". However, it is a rarity in a country ruled by Mugabe for 37 years.
"This motion is unprecedented in the history of post-independence Zimbabwe,” Parliament speaker Jacob Mubenda said.
The army’s intervention in Zimbabwe’s politics came after Mugabe sacked his long-time deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, sparking fears that he would position his wife, Grace, in the post to finally succeed him.
Mnangagwa, now a fierce opponent of Mugabe and the main figure behind the impeachment motion, said he expected the move to go through smoothly in the parliament.
“We are expecting the motion to be moved tomorrow... and hopefully by Wednesday - because the charges are so clear - we expect that by Wednesday, we should be able to vote in parliament,” said Mnangagwa, a politician who himself is known to many by his ruthless treatment of the dissent when he served under Mugabe.