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After 37 years, Robert Mugabe's tenure as president of Zimbabwe could be coming to an end. The 93-year-old was placed under house arrest by the army on Wednesday as part of what it said was an effort to root out corruption and criminality in the governing Zanu-PF party.
The military's actions not only prompted Mugabe's expulsion from Zanu-PF's Central Committee, but also demands that he be impeached.
Thousands of Zimbabweans flooded the streets of the capital Harare on Saturday calling on Mugabe to resign, but he defied expectations on Sunday in an address to the nation. Flanked by military officers, he acknowledged criticism of his government but did not mention his own position.
"We must learn to forgive and resolve contradictions real or perceived in a comradely Zimbabwean spirit", he said, adding that he planned to preside over the party's congress in December.
According to Zanu-PF, those "contradictions" include an alleged plan to position First Lady Grace Mugabe as his successor at the expense of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose sacking on 6 November is widely believed to have prompted the military's action. "It could be a plan [Mugabe is] working on to exit gracefully, or it could also be that he doesn't understand there is such a massive unhappiness", Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa told The Stream from Harare.
But observers say Zimbabwe is bigger than Mugabe – and his potential removal from office will not necessarily be a panacea for the nation's ills. Although he remains a father figure and anti-colonial hero for some Zimbabweans, he's also accused of political crackdowns and presiding over a sputtering economy beset by hyperinflation, debt and youth unemployment.
So what happens if he goes, and what sort of country do people want now? The Stream discusses with a panel of Zimbabweans.
On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Haru Mutasa @harumutasa
Africa correspondent, Al Jazeera English
Bright Matonga @DrMatonga
Former Deputy Information Minister in the cabinet of President Robert Mugabe
McDonald Lewanika @Makil
Tau Tawengwa @zimrays
Linda T. Masarira @lilomatic
Human rights activist
Thousands march in Zimbabwe to demand Mugabe step down, but when and if remain in question - Washington Post
Robert Mugabe ignores ZANU-PF deadline to resign - Al Jazeera
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