Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party called on Friday for President Robert Mugabe to resign, the main state newspaper The Herald reported, the latest sign that the aging leader’s authority has collapsed after an army takeover.
The newspaper said that ZANU-PF branches in all 10 provinces had met on Friday and had also called for Mugabe’s wife Grace, whose ambitions to succeed her husband triggered the unfolding political crisis, to resign from the party.
Mugabe appeared in public on Friday for the first time since the army took charge, as the ruling party made plans to force him to step down after almost four decades in power.
The president, who is 93, opened a graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe Open University in Harare.
A senior member of the ZANU-PF ruling party said it wanted him gone.
“If he becomes stubborn, we will arrange for him to be fired on Sunday,” the source said. “When that is done, it’s impeachment on Tuesday.”
Something the 93-year-old refused to do during a meeting with military chief General Constantino Chiwenga.
There are suggestions he is trying to hold out until elections, which are scheduled for next year.
His 37 years in office have seen the economy crumble and unemployment stands at an estimated 90 percent.
The Herald reported that ZANU-PF would convene a special Central Committee meeting on Sunday to “realign the revolutionary party with current political developments.”
The military, which seized power on Wednesday, has so far treated Mugabe carefully. It said in a statement on national television it was “engaging” with Mugabe, referred to him as Commander in Chief and said it would announce an outcome as soon as possible.
ZANU-PF has also called for a mass meeting in the capital on Saturday to show its support for the War Veterans group in their bid to remove Mugabe.
But with his wife Grace under house arrest and ZANU-PF calling for her to resign from the party , her key allies in custody and the police showing no sign of resisting the Army, there are doubts over how long Mugabe can remain president.