Mugabe secures immunity, safety assurance as part of resignation deal

GERMAN PRESS AGENCY - DPA
HARARE
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Zimbabwe's former President Robert Mugabe inspects the guard of honour during the official opening of the second session of the seventh parliament of Zimbabwe in Harare (AP Photo)
Zimbabwe's former President Robert Mugabe inspects the guard of honour during the official opening of the second session of the seventh parliament of Zimbabwe in Harare (AP Photo)

Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace, will be allowed to stay in the country and will not face prosecution for alleged crimes, a ruling party spokesman said Thursday.

"He is still our revered liberation hero. He contributed immensely to the development of the country for the past 37 years," Zanu-PF spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo told dpa.

"We do not have anything against Mugabe or his wife. The people of Zimbabwe wanted him to rest. They are free to stay in the country if they wish to," he said.

Mugabe, 93, resigned Tuesday under intense pressure, after 37 years of rule. He stepped down in the wake of a bloodless military coup that saw the army place him and his polarizing wife under house arrest.

His former deputy and long-time comrade, Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, is set to be sworn in as his replacement on Friday.

David Coltart, a former minister for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said Thursday he was not surprised there would be no prosecution.

"For all the demonstrations you saw in Harare on Saturday, the fact is that, in many rural areas, Robert Mugabe is revered," he told dpa. "Zanu knows this."

Nor are there signs that the Zanu-PF will reach out any time soon to share power with the opposition.

Indeed, Mnangagwa has pointedly used language in his initial speeches that has been used in the past to marginalize the opposition. In his maiden speech as president-designate, Mnangagwa on Wednesday likened Zanu-PF's foes to barking dogs.

"Those who don't want Zanu-PF's rule will continue to bark like dogs while Zanu-PF will continue to rule," he said.

"What he said in Shona was disappointing," David Coltart, a former MDC minister, told dpa, referring to the barking dog comments.

MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said Thursday the party has not been contacted for a possible coalition.

"What we want are electoral reforms. There should be elections next year, which should be free and fair," he told dpa.

"If Zanu-PF wants our help, we will sit down as a party and discuss. But for now, there has not been any communication," he added.

In his Wednesday speech, Mnangagwa referenced a united Zimbabwe, democratic reforms, and a revitalized economy, but failed to go into detail.

Zanu-PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo told dpa Thursday that the party was under no pressure to form a coalition government with the opposition.

"People should remember that Zanu-PF has the mandate to rule until the next election. It is not under pressure to form an inclusive government," he said.

Mnangagwa, 75, was Mugabe's lifelong comrade and deputy until he was accused of treachery and sacked earlier this month.

The sacking is now widely seen as a tactical error on the part of Mugabe as Mnangagwa - known as "The Crocodile" for his ruthlessness - is widely supported by the military.

Mugabe, his wife, and members of his party have been accused of violently quashing any opposition and gross corruption.

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