By News24 and Reuters
Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has described his departure from office in November as a “coup d’etat” in his first TV interview since then, aired by South Africa’s state broadcaster on Thursday.
“I say it was a coup d’etat – some people have refused to call it a coup d’etat,” said Mugabe referring to the brief takeover by the army which led to Emmerson Mnangagwa assuming power after his resignation.
“(…) We must undo this disgrace we have imposed on ourselves,” he said.
Mugabe was forced to quit when the military stepped in and Zanu-PF lawmakers launched impeachment proceedings against their once beloved leader.
Since his dramatic reversal of fortune, he has largely appeared to stay out of public life.
The military moved against Mugabe, 94, after he sacked his then-deputy and heir-apparent Mnangwga apparently fearing the nonagenarian was grooming his wife Grace to succeed him as president.
The former first lady had cultivated her own factional support base within Zanu-PF known as “G-40” that was seen as hostile to the security establishment.
“It was truly a military takeover, there was no movement visible unless that movement was checked and allowed by the army,” said Mugabe.
Zimbabwe’s former leader Robert Mugabe said he never thought new President Emmerson Mnangagwa would turn against him and denounced Mnangagwa’s move to oust him last year as a coup, in the interview.
Mugabe, 94, ruled Zimbabwe from independence in 1980 until he stepped down under pressure from Mnangagwa’s allies in the army in November.
Viewed by some as a liberation hero, others remember Mugabe for turning a promising country into an economic basket case and international pariah.
Mnangagwa, deputy president under Mugabe, has promised to open up Zimbabwe to foreign investment and mend ties with the West since assuming power.
“I don’t hate Emmerson. But he must be proper, he is improper where he is. Illegal…”
“I never thought he whom I had nurtured and brought into government and whose life I worked so hard in prison to save as he was threatened with hanging, that one day he would be the man who would turn against me,” Mugabe said in the interview with SABC in Harare.
Mnangagwa was convicted of sabotage under white minority rule and sentenced to death. But he was spared the noose because it was deemed that he was a minor when he had committed the crime.
Mugabe said he was ousted in a “military takeover” and that Mnangagwa had assumed the presidency illegally.
“I don’t hate Emmerson, I brought him into government. But he must be proper, he is improper where he is. Illegal,” Mugabe said. “We must undo this disgrace, which we have imposed on ourselves. We don’t deserve it.”
Zimbabwe’s New Patriotic Front (NPF) says “unwarranted” attacks on former president Robert Mugabe by Zanu-PF are a threat to peace and stability.
Since his fall from power, Mugabe has stayed at his Harare mansion with his wife Grace. His ousting was the culmination of a power struggle between Mnangagwa and Grace Mugabe, who was being groomed by her husband as his potential successor.
Mugabe was granted immunity from prosecution and assured that his safety will be protected in his home country under a deal that led to his resignation.
Mugabe quit as parliament began a process to impeach him, triggering wild celebrations in the streets.
Zimbabwe was once one of Africa’s most promising economies but suffered decades of decline as Mugabe pursued policies that included the violent seizure of white-owned commercial farms and money-printing that led to hyperinflation.
Mnangagwa has said Zimbabwe still wants to end discrimination between black and white farmers but will seek new ways to compensate those who have lost their properties. Former colonial ruler Britain said last month that Harare should press on with transparent and fair land reform.
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