Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has just resigned

Zim Stock Exchange sinks further as Mugabe impeachment set in motion

The prospect of a dynastic succession alarmed the military, which confined Mr Mugabe to his home last week and targeted what it called "criminals" around him who allegedly were looting state resources - a reference to associates of the first lady. He requested me to come to State House‚ and l replied that l was out of the country‚ and that he had already removed my status as the vice president of the country‚ as such I had no status‚ however‚ l can only come at the invitation of my colleagues in the party and of the defence forces‚ when they feel that my security is guaranteed.

Speaking on radio, Patrick Chinamasa, who was finance minister in Mr Mugabe's cabinet until a month ago, said that Zanu-PF had no need to reach out to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change of Morgan Tsvangirai.

The statement said none of Mugabe's allegations was ever tested in a court of law, and that he had abrogated his constitutional mandate to his wife, Grace.

In a televised address, the president defied expectations he would step down, pitching the country into a second week of political crisis.

"It might take days and weeks, but Mugabe is on his way out", said Charles Muramba, a 46-year-old bus driver in Harare. Pressure from within the country and from overseas had been building on Mugabe to resign, but observers had warned that the country might have to brace itself for lengthy impeachment proceedings.

The Zimbabwean parliament meets today, and it is expected that Zanu-PF would move the impeachment motion.

Protesters calling for the impeachment of President Robert Mugabe demonstrate outside the parliament building.

Zimbabwe's constitution provides four grounds for impeaching a president or vice president: serious misconduct; failure to obey, uphold or defend the constitution; willful violation of the constitution; or inability to perform the functions of the office because of physical or mental incapacity. Finally, Parliament can remove the president with a two-thirds vote in each of the two legislative chambers.

There are fears that Mr Mnangagwa, a former security chief with a reputation for ruthlessness, will continue the repressive policies that had become a hallmark of the Mugabe regime.

In a TV broadcast on Monday night, the leaders of Zimbabwe's military takeover said Mnangagwa had been in touch with Mugabe and planned to return to the country to discuss the way forward.

In a statement, Mnangagwa said Mugabe needed to heed the "clarion call" of his people and step down.

"It capped an unprecedented week in which the military seized control and tens of thousands of ordinary Zimbabweans took to the streets in an extraordinary show of defiance to demand that he leave".

Mnangagwa - known as "The Crocodile" on account of his sharp political skills - enjoys widespread support within the military and is reported to have been in touch with army chiefs behind the scenes in recent days.

"He is now saying it is important to be part and parcel of what the people are saying when the people's voices have been ignored so far", said Okay Machisa, the executive director of ZimRights, a human rights group.

'Smell the coffee'Mugabe suffered further humiliation on Tuesday when nearly no government ministers heeded his call to attend a cabinet meeting at his State House residence, official media reported. Just five ministers turned up; 17 others attended impeachment meetings.

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