Mugabe Will Continue Living in Zimbabwe, Spokesman Says
HARARE, Zimbabwe — Robert Mugabe, the longtime leader of Zimbabwe who was ousted in a military intervention last week, will continue to live in the country with his wife, Grace, after a new president takes over, his spokesman said on Thursday.
Mr. Mugabe, 93, who has not spoken or appeared in public since resigning as president on Tuesday, does not wish to live anywhere else, his spokesman, George Charamba, said an interview.
“He’s Zimbabwean,” Mr. Charamba said. “Where else would he live?”
Mr. Mugabe, who had led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, fell from power after firing Emmerson Mnangagwa, his vice president, early this month and then trying to arrest the nation’s top military commander. He resigned on Tuesday.
With the military’s backing, Mr. Mnangagwa replaced Mr. Mugabe as leader of the governing ZANU-PF party, and he is to be sworn in as Zimbabwe’s president on Friday.
Last week, Zimbabwe’s military commanders placed Mr. Mugabe and his wife under house arrest — the culmination of a power struggle that had pitted Ms. Mugabe and her political allies against Mr. Mnangagwa and the military. While Zimbabweans cheered the end of Mr. Mugabe’s 37-year-rule, most citizens and politicians have reserved their harshest criticism for Ms. Mugabe, 52, who had eliminated rivals in an attempt to succeed her husband.
In the past week, the Mugabes have been meeting with military officials to negotiate their future, along with Mr. Charamba, a Roman Catholic priest and a few other individuals acting as mediators. According to the Constitution, a president does not have immunity after leaving office. The Mugabes are believed to have accumulated vast wealth in Zimbabwe as well as in the Middle East and Asia.
Mr. Charamba said that the issue of immunity had not come up during the talks, and declined to comment on other topics under discussion. Col. Overson Mugwizi, a spokesman for the military, denied news reports that it had guaranteed immunity for Mr. Mugabe.
In recent years, Mr. Mugabe has frequently visited Singapore for medical treatment, leading some politicians and diplomats to speculate that he would move there.
Other African strongmen, like Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, were forced to spend their last years in exile after being toppled from power.
But there have been few calls in the political class to treat Mr. Mugabe harshly. Perhaps because of the central role Mr. Mugabe has played in the nation’s history and his advanced age, even ZANU-PF officials who led efforts to impeach him have simply said that he should be allowed to rest. The day after he resigned, the state newspaper, The Herald, had an article with a banner headline on the front page that read, “ZANU-PF Pays Tribute to Mugabe.”
Even Mr. Mugabe’s longtime rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, who was often the target of Mr. Mugabe’s brutal repression of the political opposition, expressed little interest in pursuing the fallen leader.
Asked whether Mr. Mugabe should be prosecuted, Mr. Tsvangirai said in an interview with the BBC: “No, I don’t think so. I think to pursue the old man would be a futile exercise. I think let him go and rest his last days.’’
Mr. Charamba said that Mr. Mugabe would not attend the swearing-in ceremony of his successor on Friday.
“Emotions and feelings are running high,” he said. “It’s important for us not to expose a 93-year-old man to that.”