Emmerson Mnangagwa (left) with president Mugabe in happier times

ZIMBABWE’S president Robert Mugabe tonight pulled off a stunt by reading out a speech, with top military officers looking on, without once alluding to his much expected and anticipated resignation.

A Zanu-PF source in Harare said the “reconciliatory” tone of the speech read by Mugabe in front of television cameras was cunningly worded to give the impression that he is still in charge.

I’m still trying to get a reaction from top Zanu-PF and military sources about what they made of Mugabe’s speech, which was baffling to say the least,” the source said. “However, I understand that the generals are insisting that Mugabe resigns as head of state, tonight.”

Earlier today, members of Zanu-PF’s central committee resolved to fire Mugabe as party leader as well as his wife Grace, as leader of the women’s league.

The Committee also replaced Mugabe with Emmerson Mnangagwa on an interim basis until ratification at the party’s Extra-Ordinary Congress next month. It also indicated that Mugabe had been asked to resign by mid-day tomorrow, failure of which he will be impeached in parliament.

The party also discarded the ‘one centre of power’ notion, which has underpinned Mugabe’s grip on power.

However, none of these far reaching decisions transpired in Mugabe’s 15 minute long speech.

Instead, the aged leader who has been in power for 37 years rambled on about the need to fix the economy, which is tottering on the brink of total collapse, and resolving differences within Zanu-PF, which have culminated in the formation of poisonous factions.

Chris Mutsvangwa, a war veteran leader who has been leading a campaign to oust the 93 year old president had told the press before Mugabe’s speech that his association, which organised the march attended by tens of thousands of people on Saturday, would unleash angry demonstrators on the State House if Mugabe failed to resign.

After Mugabe’s speech, Mutsvangwa said that people would take to the streets of Harare on Wednesday to impress upon Mugabe that his failure to resign would not be tolerated.

Meanwhile, a political pressure group, Tajamuka, which is opposed to Mugabe’s rule has reacted by calling for a total shutdown of business in the country on Wednesday.

All business must shut down on 22 November and schools will be closed down and no one will be allowed to go to work and all taxis will be shut down,” a statement issued by Tajamuka says. “Let’s all go on the streets carrying our flags and march all day until Mugabe steps down.”