Mugabe Granted Immunity, Assured Of Safety In Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe was granted immunity from prosecution and assured that his safety will be protected in his home country under a deal that led to his resignation, sources close to the negotiations said on Thursday.
Mugabe, who had led Zimbabwe from independence in 1980, stepped down on Tuesday after the army seized power and the ruling party turned against him. Emmerson Mnangagwa, the former vice president sacked by Mugabe earlier this month, is set to be sworn in as president on Friday.
A government source said Mugabe, who is 93 and was the world’s oldest serving head of state, told negotiators he wanted to die in Zimbabwe and had no plans to live in exile.
“It was very emotional for him and he was forceful about it,” said the source, who is not authorised to speak on the details of the negotiated settlement.
“For him it was very important that he be guaranteed security to stay in the country…although that will not stop him from travelling abroad when he wants to or has to.”
Mugabe resigned as parliament began a process to impeach him, sparking wild celebrations in the streets. His sudden fall after 37 years in power was triggered by a battle to succeed him that pitted Mnangagwa against Mugabe’s much younger wife Grace.
“The outgoing president is obviously aware of the public hostility to his wife, the anger in some circles about the manner in which she conducted herself and approached ZANU-PF party politics,” a second source said.
“In that regard, it became necessary to also assure him that his whole family, including the wife, would be safe and secure.”
Mugabe had clung on to power for a week after the military intervened. He angered many Zimbabweans when he did not resign in a televised address on Sunday as many had anticipated.
The government source said the tipping point for Mugabe was the realisation that he would be impeached and ousted in an undignified way. “When the process started, he then realised he had lost the party,” the source said.
Mugabe will receive a retirement package that includes a pension, housing, holiday and transport allowance, health insurance, limited air travel and security.
The aging former president was “rugged and drained” by events of the past week and may travel to Singapore for medical checks in the coming weeks, the source said. He had been due to leave for the Southeast Asian country in mid-November before the military put him under house arrest.
Mugabe has maintained that he leads a frugal life and that he does not possess any wealth or properties outside Zimbabwe. Addressing a cheering crowd in Harare on Wednesday night, Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was entering a new stage of democracy.
Mnangagwa had returned to the country earlier in the day, having fled for his safety when Mugabe sacked him as vice president two weeks ago to smooth a path to the succession for Grace.
“The people have spoken. The voice of the people is the voice of God,” Mnangagwa told thousands of supporters gathered outside the ruling ZANU-PF party’s offices in the capital.
His own human rights record also stirs hostility in many Zimbabweans. Mnangagwa was Mugabe’s state security minister in the 1980s.