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Mugabe sacked as leader of ruling party but clings on as President

President Mugabe meets Defence Force Generals at State House on Sunday. Credit: AP

Amid jubilant scenes of singing and dancing, Zimbabwe’s ruling party has voted to sack Robert Mugabe as their leader.

The decision has not stripped Mr Mugabe of the role of President – but it marks a key loss of support from his former allies and adds to pressure on him to voluntarily stand down.

ZANU-PF party members gave the leadership position to the former Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, but stopped short of removing Mr Mugabe's membership of the party.

Robert Mugabe is facing growing pressure to voluntarily step down as President. Credit: PA

One delegate told me after the meeting: “It’s a very great thing that we have done today.”

When I asked her why they had not done this years ago, she said “Mugabe is a good man but he is surrounded by thieves.

“Now we want him gone today.”

The party later warned that Mr Mugabe must stand down by noon on Monday or face impeachment proceedings.

Members of the ZANU-PF Central Committee attend the meeting at the party HQ in Harare. Credit: AP

Also on Sunday the President met with General Constantino Chiwenga, the army head who led the military intervention against him, to discuss details of his departure in a second round of talks between the pair.

Details of the discussions between the pair have not been released, but the military appears to favour a voluntary resignation by Mr Mugabe in order to avoid accusations of a coup and maintain a veneer of legality in the proceedings.

However, there is still no sign that he is willing to voluntarily step down as the head of state.

Parliament may be asked to vote on a motion of impeachment next week if Mr Mugabe remains.

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There were surreal scenes at the ZANU-PF meeting.

The seats reserved for the President and his wife Grace remained empty as committee members, usually the most slavish sycophants, prepared to vote on his fate.

Obert Mpofu, a minister in Mr Mugabe’s government who chaired the proceedings, told the meeting that the military had “freed the president from the closet of those who want to ruin the country".

The ruling party refuses to believe that Mr Mugabe is to blame for any of the ills besetting the nation.

"There’s no doubt we meet here today with a heavy heart,” the minister added.

“We have all worked closely with the outgoing President, but in the last five years his wife and close associates have taken advantage of his frail condition to loot powers and state resources."

Zimbabweans calls for Mugabe to step down. Credit: AP

The fact journalists were allowed into witness the meeting was an extraordinary step.

The reason is simply that Zimbabwe wants to show the move against Mr Mugabe is in accordance with the law and constitution of the country.