Rul­ing party told Mu­gabe he wouldn’t face pros­e­cu­tion

New leader set to take of­fice to­day

The Mercury News Weekend - - OTHER VIEWS - By FaraiMut­saka and Christo­pher Torchia The As­so­ci­ated Press

HARARE, ZIM­BABWE » Zim­babwe’s rul­ing party as­sured Robert Mu­gabe that he wouldn’t be pros­e­cuted if he re­signed, a party of­fi­cial said Thurs­day, as the fate of the 93-year- old be­came clearer and the coun­try pre­pared to move on.

“Pros­e­cut­ing him was never part of the plan,” ZANU-PF chief whip Love­more Matuke told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “He is safe, his fam­ily is safe and his sta­tus as a hero of his coun­try is as­sured. All we were say­ing is re­sign or face im­peach­ment.”

As Zim­babwe pre­pared to wit­ness the swear­ing-in of new pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa to­day, its cit­i­zens cir­cu­lated on so­cial me­dia a new photo show­ing what ap­peared to be Mu­gabe at the end of his 37-year rule.

Mu­gabe and his wife are shown sit­ting on a sofa with ad­vis­ers stand­ing be­hind them. A de­jected- look­ing Grace Mug abe, who just days ago had been poised to re­place Mnan­gagwa af­ter his fir­ing as vice pres­i­dent and even suc­ceed her hus­band, looks off cam­era. A list­ing Robert Mu­gabe’s eyes are closed. The photo could not im­me­di­ately be ver­i­fied.

Mu­gabe, who re­signed on Tues­day as law­mak­ers be­gan im­peach­ing him, has not spo­ken pub­licly since his stun­ning speech on Sun­day de­fy­ing calls from the mil­i­tary, rul­ing party and the peo­ple to step down.

But it ap­pears he and his wife will re­main in the cap- ital, Harare.

Ac­cord­ing to pro­to­col, Mu­gabe could even be present at the 75-year- old Mnan­gagwa’s swearingin on Fri­day morn­ing at a 60,000-seat sta­dium af­ter mak­ing a tri­umphant re­turn to the coun­try. He fled shortly af­ter his fir­ing, claim­ing threats to his life.

Mnan­gagwa’s speech upon his re­turn Wed­nes­day night out­side rul­ing party head­quar­ters promised “a new, un­fold­ing democ­racy” and ef­forts to re­build a shat­tered econ­omy. But he also re­cited slo­gans from the rul­ing ZANU-PF party, un­likely to re­as­sure the op­po­si­tion.

The op­po­si­tion party MDC-T, which sup­ported Mu­gabe’s re­moval, said it had not been in­vited to the in­au­gu­ra­tion. Spokesman Obert Guru said the party was closely watch­ing Mnan­gagwa’s next moves, “par­tic­u­larly re­gard­ing the dis­man­tling of all the op­pres­sive pil­lars of re­pres­sion.”

In a state­ment Thurs­day, Mnan­gagwa urged Zim­bab­weans against “venge­ful ret­ri­bu­tion.”

The pas­tor who led large anti- gov­ern­ment protests last year, Evan Mawarire, says Zim­bab­weans should let Mnan­gagwa know that the coun­try should be for ev­ery­one and not just the rul­ing party.

Mnan­gagwa, a for­mer jus­tice and de­fense min­is­ter with close ties to the mil­i­tary who served for decades asMu­gabe’s en­forcer, re­mains on a U.S. sanc­tions list over al­le­ga­tions of vi­o­lently crack­ing down on op­po­nents.

He fled Zim­babwe af­ter be­ing fired on Nov. 6 and was in hid­ing dur­ing the week-long po­lit­i­cal drama that led to Mu­gabe’s res­ig­na­tion.

His ap­pear­ance on Wed­nes­day, f lanked by heavy se­cu­rity, de­lighted sup­port­ers who hope he can guide Zim­babwe out of po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic tur­moil.

BEN CUR­TIS — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Zim­babwe’s Pres­i­dent in wait­ing Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa, greets sup­port­ers gath­ered Wed­nes­day out­side the ZanuPF party head­quar­ters in Harare, Zim­babwe.

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