Initially, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres has called on all sides in Zimbabwe to show “restraint” after the country’s military took control and placed President Robert Mugabe under house arrest.
Mr Guterres “stresses the importance of resolving political differences through peaceful means and dialogue, and in line with the country’s constitution,” he added.
Also, the head of the African Union said the then crisis in Zimbabwe “seems like a coup” and called on the military to halt their actions and restore constitutional order.
AU chairperson, Alpha Conde, who is also Guinea’s president, said the AU condemned the actions of top brass in the southern African nation as “clearly soldiers trying to take power by force”.
“The African Union expresses its serious concern regarding the situation unfolding in Zimbabwe,” a statement reads, expressing support for the country’s “legal institutions”.
“The African body further demanded “constitutional order to be restored immediately and calls on all stakeholders to show responsibility and restraint,” he added.
All the statements made by international governing bodies claiming to protect the constitution and democracy of Zimbabwe were unfulfilling as the Zimbabwean military has succeeded to oust the legitimate President.
The double-edged African Union has welcomed Robert Mugabe’s decision to step down as president of Zimbabwe, saying the people had expressed their will for a “peaceful transfer of power.”
AU chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said he “welcomes the decision by President Robert Mugabe to step down from his position as Head of State following a lifetime of service to the Zimbabwean nation.”
“President Mugabe will be remembered as a fearless pan-Africanist liberation fighter, and the father of the independent Zimbabwean nation,” he said in a statement released late Tuesday.
After dominating nearly every aspect of Zimbabwean public life for decades, the 93-year-old’s tenure on Tuesday ended in an announcement at a special joint session of Parliament where MPs had convened to impeach Mugabe after the ruling party sacked him as their leader earlier this week.
The only leader Zimbabwe has known since independence from Britain in April 1980, President Robert Mugabe has been the architect of everything his country is proud of and not so proud of – from a highly educated citizenry and the region’s breadbasket to a collapsed economy.
Feted by many in Africa as a liberation icon, Mugabe offered a message of hope and unity to a population ravaged by years of war when he became the first black prime minister of newly independent Zimbabwe on 18 April 1980.
He did not disappoint on his promise during the first decade of independence, delivering a free education system that was the envy of many of Zimbabwe’s neighbours and far afield, as well as announcing a much vaunted policy of reconciliation with the country’s white population.
The reconciliation policy endeared him to Western nations which poured in resources into the southern African country, making it one of the jewels of Africa.
Buoyed by a booming economy and economic support from the West, Zimbabwe was regarded as the breadbasket of southern Africa – able to feed itself and export any excess to neighbouring countries and beyond.
However, even during that first-decade honeymoon Mugabe showed dictatorial tendencies and a serious detest for divergent views.
Since the mid-1980s he has routinely crushed his political enemies, even boasting at one time that he “a degree in violence”.
Over the years he has suppressed challengers such as liberation war rival Joshua Nkomo who led the then Patriotic Front-Zimbabwe African People’s Union (PF-ZAPU).
Faced with a revolt in the mid-1980s in the western province of Matabeleland which he blamed on Nkomo, Mugabe sent in the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade that massacred more than 20,000 civilians, mostly from Nkomo’s Ndebele tribe.
The discovery of mass graves prompted accusations of genocide against Mugabe.
Analysts say a critical turning point for the Zimbabwean leader was the January 1992 death of his first wife, Sally, seen by many as the only person capable of restraining him.
Sarah Francesca Hayfron, popularly known as Sally, was a Ghanaian woman whom Mugabe met when he taught in the West African country. They married in April 1961.
About four years after Sally’s death, Mugabe officialised his union with his girlfriend Grace Marufu with whom he had an affair while his first wife was fighting a kidney ailment that later claimed her life.
The couple wedded in August 1996 but already had three children together, the first of whom was born while Sally was still alive.
Things were never the same after that for the man who was once a darling of Zimbabweans.
The country’s fortunes hit rock bottom in 2008 when inflation breached 230 billion percent and foodstuffs disappeared from shops.
Naturally he lost to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in elections held in March of that year, but wiggled his way out after taking 34 days to release the outcome of the polls.
Taking advantage of his grip on the country’s electoral commission and through creative number crunching, he managed to show that Tsvangirai had failed to garner an absolute majority to secure an outright victory.
Facing defeat in a presidential run-off, Mugabe resorted to violence, forcing Tsvangirai to withdraw after scores of his supporters were killed by ZANU-PF thugs.
He only agreed to a unity government in 2009 following the intervention of regional giant South Africa.
After vanquishing Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in elections in 2013, Mugabe then turned his focus on eliminating his two deputies in a move that later turned out to be meant to install his wife as his successor.
First to go was Joice Mujuru who was hounded out of ZANU PF under the allegations that she plotted to oust him in 2014.
Then followed Mujuru’s replacement, Emmerson Mnangagwa- a hardened veteran of Zimbabwe’s 1970s liberation war who has strong links with the country’s army.
Mnangagwa was fired as vice president on 6 November to pave the way for Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband.
This triggered the latest political crisis where the Zimbabwe Defence Forces placed Mugabe under house arrest and demanded his resignation.
Zimbabwe was plunged into a constitutional crisis on Wednesday after the resignation of former President Robert Mugabe, a development that left the country without a leader until the expected inauguration of ex-Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa as President.
According to politician and human rights lawyer David Coltart, exiled Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko is supposed to be Zimbabwe’s acting president until a substantive leader is appointed.
Coltart wrote on microblogging platform Twitter that, according to Section 14 of the 6th Schedule of the Zimbabwean constitution, Mphoko is supposed to be acting president since he was the one who was appointed as Acting President when former President Robert Mugabe was out of the country.
“The person who is acting President today by virtue of sec 14 of the 6th schedule is too scared to come home,” Coltart said.
Section 14(4)(a) of the 6th Schedule of the Zimbabwean constitution states that “where there are two Vice Presidents, the Vice President who was last nominated to act… acts as President until a new President assumes office.”
By virtue of having been the last one to act as President when Mugabe travelled to Uruguay in October for a World Health Organisation conference, Mphoko is supposed to be the President.
Mphoko was in Japan when the army placed Mugabe under house arrest and arrested some officials last week.
Mnangagwa was in self-imposed exile following his sacking by Mugabe on 6 November for alleged disloyalty. He was however reinstated into the ruling ZANU PF at the weekend and subsequently elected new party leader, replacing Mugabe who was fired.
Mphoko is alleged to have been a key member of the G40 faction that is accused by the military of causing problems in ZANU PF as well as engaging in corrupt activities. He therefore fears arrest if he returns to Harare.
ZANU PF has nominated Mnangagwa as its new leader and he is expected to replace Mugabe as Zimbabwe’s president.
According to Section 14(4)(b), a vacancy in the office of President “must be filled by a nominee of the political party which the President represented when he or she stood for election.”
Mnangagwa is expected to be sworn in by Friday.
In another development, the Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara has said his Zimbabwean counterpart, Robert Mugabe must be allowed a dignified exit given his reputation as an old freedom fighter “who has given much of his life to the liberation of his country”.
Ouattara was speaking in Abidjan at the opening of the International Trade and Agriculture Fair (SARA 2017) on Friday.
“We have known each other since 1984 when I was at the International Monetary Fund and then, after my election as President we frequently met at the African Union summits” Mr. Ouattara explained while commenting on the situation in Zimbabwe.
“It is true that he is adored by many young Africans. But times have changed. He must leave his duties with dignity. This is the message I passed on to the mediator Jacob Zuma,” Ouattara said, insisting that with “his old age and longevity in power, his dignity must be respected.”