Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe, who was ousted by the military in November, made a surprise intervention Sunday on the eve of key elections, calling for voters to throw his old party out of office.
In his first live appearance since being forced to resign by his generals, Mugabe, 94, spoke slowly but appeared in good health sitting in a pagoda in the grounds of “Blue Roof”, his sprawling mansion in Harare.
“I hope the choice or the voting which will be done tomorrow… will thrust away the military form of government and bring us back to constitutionality,” he said.
In the country’s first election since Mugabe was ousted after 37 years in power, Zimbabwe goes to the polls on Monday amid mounting allegations of voter fraud and predictions of a disputed result.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former ally in the ruling ZANU-PF party, faces opposition leader Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the landmark vote for the southern African nation.
Zimbabwe’s generals shocked the world last year when they seized control and ushered Mnangagwa to power after Mugabe allegedly tried to position his wife Grace, 53, to be his successor.
“I cannot vote for those who tormented me,” Mugabe said, hinting he could vote for MDC. “I can’t vote for ZANU-PF… what is left? I think it is just Chamisa.”
“It was a thorough coup d’etat,” Mugabe said of his dethroning, adding it was “utter nonsense” that he wanted his wife as his successor.