By Anna Chibamu
SPEAKER of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda on Monday for the first time opened up on the anguish he went through after a motion of impeachment against then President Robert Mugabe was moved in the National Assembly in November 2017.
Mudenda was delivering a lecture at the Zimbabwe Defense University, in which he described Mugabe as a “captured despot” whose removal was above board.
“Can you imagine what went through the head of the Speaker when there was this motion of impeaching the Head of State? What went inside there (pointing to his head)?
“This was something that had never happened in Zimbabwe but it had to be done. There was no way the Speaker could have stopped the process because that would have been unconstitutional. So the process proceeded accordingly,” said Mudenda.
“It had to be done because a motion for impeachment had been tabled in Parliament. Until we received a letter of resignation from the former President which stopped the impeachment process immediately. It was not easy.”
Previous attempts to impeach Mugabe by the opposition MDC had failed but following the dramatic events in which the then Zanu PF leader was placed under house arrest by the army in mid-November 2017, demonstrations supported by the military broke out across the country with demands that the former guerrilla leader resigns.
Zanu PF then pushed for a motion of no confidence in Mugabe moved by now Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa at a special sitting of both the National Assembly and Senate supported by the opposition.
But as MPs prepared to debate the motion, Mugabe who for days had kept the country on edge, refusing to resign finally threw in the towel torching wild scenes of celebrations among Zimbabweans.
Mudenda a key Zanu PF figure for decades before being elected Speaker after the 2013 general elections described Mugabe’s rule as “despotic” while justifying the military coup that toppled the former Zanu PF leader after 37 years in power.
“The security of the State then was under an insidious threat from the vagaries of the despotic rule of the former President who had been captured by a small clique of the G40 cabal,” added Mudenda.
While critics have been quick to argue that the army’s move was unconstitutional, Mudenda said a ruling by Judge President George Chiweshe that the action was perfectly legal is sound and speaks to the provisions of the country’s governance charter.
Towards the end of Mugabe’s rule, Zanu PF was engulfed in a vicious internal power struggle pitting two rival camps, one with the then President’s tacit support known as G40 that was pushing for the then First Lady Grace to assume power and another, the Lacoste group fronted by then Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa was fired in early November a move that triggered the military action followed by Mugabe’s resignation and Mnangagwa’s return from brief exile in South Africa before he took power.