Emmerson Mnangagwa has already been inaugurated as Zimbabwe's president and ZANU-PF leader, replacing Robert Mugabe, who led the party since 1975 and the country since independence from white minority rule in 1980.

An official puts up a portrait of Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa ahead of a meeting of the ZANU PF central committee in downtown Harare, Zimbabwe, on December 14, 2017.
An official puts up a portrait of Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa ahead of a meeting of the ZANU PF central committee in downtown Harare, Zimbabwe, on December 14, 2017. (Reuters)

In an open space that Zimbabwe's ruling party has called Robert Mugabe Square, delegates gathered on Friday to seal the fate of a man they had revered for decades but removed from power in dramatic scenes last month.

Emmerson Mnangagwa has already been inaugurated as the new president and party leader, replacing Mugabe, who had led the party since 1975 and the country since independence from white minority rule in 1980.

Friday's ZANU PF party meeting is the final step in Mugabe's fall from grace after the military put him under house arrest.

Hundreds of thousands rallied in the streets and lawmakers began impeachment proceedings. 

Under the growing pressure, the 93-year-old, who had vowed to rule for life, finally resigned.

TRT World spoke to journalist Columbus Mavhunga who is following developments in the capital, Harare.

The decision to remove Mugabe as party leader was made by the Central Committee, and "it is a foregone conclusion delegates will ratify," party spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo said.

Images of Mugabe's face, usually plastered on delegates' dress and other paraphernalia, were conspicuously missing, as was Mugabe himself. 

The former president flew to Malaysia and Singapore earlier this week to visit family and seek medical treatment in his first overseas trip since last month's events.

Mnangagwa at his inauguration described Mugabe as a "father, comrade-in-arms and my leader," even though his firing by Mugabe as vice president early last month set the events in motion amid concerns that unpopular first lady Grace Mugabe might succeed him.

Mugabe's time was up the moment he was seen to have surrendered power to his wife, some party delegates said.

Emmerson Mnangagwa

The ruling party also was expected to endorse the 75-year-old Mnangagwa as party leader and its presidential candidate for next year's elections, Moyo said.

Now Mnangagwa must find a way out of his longtime mentor's shadow, revive the severely weakened economy and win over voters ahead of elections.

On Thursday, he called for longtime sanctions to be lifted to ease foreign investment and promised measures to make the once-prosperous southern African nation "a place where capital feels safe."

The opposition, shut out of Mnangagwa's cabinet in favour of military and ruling party members, has joined the United States and others in the international community in urging Zimbabwe's new government to make sure next year's elections are democratic.

Mnangagwa, sanctioned by the US years ago for his activities as a top Mugabe aide, has said the government will do all in its power to make sure the elections are "credible, free and fair."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies