FORMER First Lady Grace forced her husband Robert Mugabe to step-down as President as pressure mounted in the aftermath of the military intervention and a Zanu PF internal process to remove him as leader, while Parliament undertook impeachment proceedings.
Mugabe told journalists in his first press briefing since the dramatic end to his 37-year-rule last November, which paved the way for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to sweep into power.
The former Zanu PF leader said he was ready to tough it out and face impeachment before Grace and Roman Catholic cleric Fidelis Mukonori arm-twisted him into throwing in the towel to prevent bloodshed.
“Under the circumstances I didn’t want to step down because I felt it was not proper and I insisted that everything was done unconstitutionally,’’ Mugabe said.
The 94-year-old said even the demonstrations by tens of thousands of Zimbabweans across the country would not have forced him to cede power.
Mugabe revealed that he was ready to face impeachment but his wife felt the process would take long and in between, the country could plunge into anarchy and bloodshed.
As he sat in his well-furnished office at their residence with a huge portrait of him and Grace in the background, Mugabe insisted that the multitudes of people who marched in the streets of Harare on November 18 last year were opposition MDC-T supporters and, therefore, it was false to assume their feelings represented those of all Zimbabweans.
Grace who sat by Mugabe’s side collaborated her husband’s statement, claiming she persuaded him to resign in order to save lives.
“Baba (father) did not want to put pen to paper, in fact it was me who urged him to resign for the sake of peace because Baba did not want to, since the whole thing was unconstitutional,” Grace said.
Mugabe continued, claiming he felt cheated by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, his long trusted lieutenant.
Mugabe said he was willing to talk to Mnangagwa.
“I was always with Emmerson Mnangagwa, I brought him into government but never thought he would be the man to turn against me.
“I never thought this would happen when I natured him and worked so hard while in jail to save his life when they wanted to hang him,” the former President said.
Mugabe said Mnangagwa was in the presidency illegally, adding he would want to help return the country to constitutionalism.
“What we need is to correct that illegality that he would want me to discuss with him (Emmerson Mnangagwa). I’m willing and that we must undo this disgrace which we have imposed on ourselves, we don’t deserve it, we don’t deserve it, please we don’t deserve it, Zimbabwe doesn’t not deserve it we want it to be a constitutional country, yes we have our short comings here and there but here and there we must obey the Constitution,” Mugabe said.
During the “coup”’ period Father Mukonori and Presidential spokesperson George Charamba acted as the negotiators to settle the impasse. Negotiations were between the then President and army commanders led by Commander of the Defence Forces, now Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga. However, Grace said Mugabe felt the two (Mukonori and Charamba) were rather biased towards the army that had taken him hostage.
Efforts were also made by the South African delegation that came in during the same period.