Everyone was waiting with bated breath for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to announce his resignation in a televised address to the nation on Sunday. Earlier on the day, his party, the ZANU-PF, gave the 93-year old 24 hours to resign as head of state -- or face impeachment.
Yet, when the time came, Mugabe told the world he would not be stepping down and would be going nowhere, thank you very much.
And the world was stunned.
"I am baffled," Morgan Tsvangirai, president of the Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai (MDC-T), the official opposition party in the country, told Reuters. "It's not just me, it's the whole nation. He's playing a game. He has let the whole nation down."
He said a lot, but didn't actually say anything at all! 🙃 #Mugabe— Ulrich J van Vuuren (@UlrichJvV) November 19, 2017
However, Mugabe did acknowledge the criticism from ZANU-PF, the military and the public.
In a lengthy address, President Mugabe did not resign – despite being removed as leader of his party. pic.twitter.com/zCqQbKiNbn— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) November 19, 2017
Here are a few talking points:
One of the major talking points has been what many believe was the "switching" of speeches. Shortly before the president addressed the nation, we saw a military official removing the pile of papers before him and replacing it with another, which led many to suspect that there was a late-breaking replacement of what he was supposed to say.
There has, however, not been any clarity on the possible switching.
Here are some of the key points he made in his speech:
- "I am aware of a whole range of concerns, which have come from you all citizens of our great country, and who thus deserve our untrammelled attention."
- "In respect of the party, issues raised both by the commanders and by the general membership of ZANU-PF, these, too stand acknowledged."
- "The congress is due in a few weeks from now. I will preside over its processes, which must not be prepossessed by any acts calculated to undermine it or to compromise its outcomes in the eyes of the public."
It was when he indicated that he would chair the ZANU-PF extraordinary congress in a few weeks' time that the penny dropped for us that, no, despite expectations he would, in fact, not be stepping down.Mugabe plays by his own rules
Former president Robert Mugabe has been given until 12 tomorrow to resign from his government deployment. He must now step down as president of Zimbabwe or we will be forced to remove him.— ZANU PF (@zanu_pf) November 19, 2017
Mugabe showed his country -- and indeed the whole world -- that he still is the president and that if he would ever step down, it would be on his own terms.
"Asante Sane," he said as he "dropped the mic", saying "thank you very much" to the African continent in its universal language, Swahili.
The process is on track and nearly complete, its was clearly articulated by RG Mugabe that there is no coup. Now the next announcement must happen.— ZANU PF (@zanu_pf) November 20, 2017
Here are some of the best reactions to his announcement on the social media:
Just when the New Zimbabwe DOWNLOAD progress was 99.9%, then Uncle Bob switched OFF WiFi #Mugabe— Maccos C.M. (@maccoscyrus) November 20, 2017
Watch the full speech here: