SPEAKER of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda has, for the first time, revealed how he managed to convince late former president Cde Robert Mugabe to tender his resignation, allowing him to leave office with “some form of remaining dignity”.
Cde Mugabe resigned from office on November 21, 2017 following a week of unrelenting calls from the public and his own party, Zanu-PF, to step down after 37 years of leading the country.
When Cde Mugabe tendered his resignation via a letter read to Parliament by Adv Mudenda, the process of impeachment had already begun during a joint sitting of both the Senate and the National Assembly at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC).
It was during the debate that Adv Mudenda received the late former President’s resignation letter which had been brought by then Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Happyton Bonyongwe.
Adv Mudenda, who was speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting of media practitioners and the civil society organisations in Bulawayo on Tuesday, said he phoned Cde Mugabe and told him in no uncertain terms that he risked suffering the ignominy of being impeached in the event that he failed to heed his advice.
“I was in conversation with the President (Mugabe) and advised him that ‘why don’t you resign and stop this impeachment because you will not win it’. We spoke over the phone because I did not want him to suffer the consequences of impeachment where he was going to appear before a Parliamentary committee to answer to charges; he could not have escaped,” he said.
“Out of respect, I told him not to allow himself to be humiliated through that. I said do not allow yourself to go through this damming process of impeachment. He said ‘I will come back to you’ and it was around 1.05PM.
“I think he consulted his lawyers and he phoned back and said ‘Honourable Speaker, I agree with you and I am going to write a letter and it will be delivered where the impeachment process is taking place’.”
Adv Mudenda said reading Mugabe’s letter, which had his signature, marked an end to the impeachment process.
“I never doubted his signature because I knew it very well. I read the letter and that killed the impeachment process and the President was free to receive all his benefits and those of the First Family. Unfortunately, he had fallen ill and he battled that cancer, but couldn’t conquer it,” he said.
The motion to impeach Cde Mugabe was moved by Senator Monica Mutsvangwa (Zanu-PF) and seconded by Mabvuku-Tafara MP Mr James Maridadi (MDC-T).
Cde Mugabe stood accused of serious misconduct and abrogating his constitutional mandate to his wife who was making utterances on business of Government and accessing classified information without constitutional authority.
The announcement was followed by jubilation among legislators and members of the public that had come to witness the impeachment proceedings at the HICC. The joint sitting of the houses of Parliament had been convened to discuss the President’s impeachment after he had initially failed to resign, as directed by the Zanu-PF Central Committee.
Adv Mudenda said the former First Lady, Grace Mugabe, had usurped the powers of the President in breach of the Constitution and going to the extent of summoning Vice Presidents to give them instructions.
“It is not a secret that Grace Mugabe had turned into a de facto leader of Zimbabwe. She said it herself during one her rallies that ‘every morning I summon the two Vice-Presidents and they would bring notebooks and I tell them what to do’. Where have you found that in the world where a Frist Lady does that?
“President Mugabe was now very old and his wife was now running the affairs of this country and it was unconstitutional. The constitution does not allow a first lady to be prominent in the rule of the country,” said Adv Mudenda.
Adv Mudenda said there was also a mistaken view in the public domain that he should have stopped the recent recalling of expelled MDC-T MPs, adding that as Speaker of Parliament he had no right to go into the merits and demerits of the matter.
The MDC-T led by Dr Thokozani Khupe recalled 21 legislators including eight senators it nominated to fill seats won by the umbrella MDC-Alliance, which it sees as an electoral pact.-@mashnets