Natalie CastañedaComment

Zimbabwe’s political drama: What just happened? A timeline

Natalie CastañedaComment
Zimbabwe’s political drama: What just happened? A timeline

Zimbabwe’s longtime President Robert Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state at 93, is resisting calls to step aside. Placed under military house arrest amid fears he was positioning his wife to succeed him, warned by the ruling party’s Central Committee to go or face impeachment, he stunned the country by remaining defiant in a national address.

Here’s a timeline of events in a whirlwind drama many Zimbabweans after Mugabe’s 37 years in charge never thought they’d see:

Nov. 6: After a campaign of public insults against Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe fires his longtime deputy, later accusing him of plotting to take power via witchcraft. Mnangagwa flees the country.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, left, Vice President of Zimbabwe stands next to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe after the swearing in ceremony at State House in Harare, Dec, 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)


Nov 13: Army commander Constantino Chiwenga issues a rare public rebuke, saying the military won’t hesitate to “step in” to calm political tensions and criticizing the handling of the once-prosperous southern African nation’s crumbling economy.

People hold their messages in Harare to demonstrate for the ouster of President Robert Mugabe who is virtually powerless and deserted by most of his allies, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. Zimbabwe's generals, including Constantino Chiwenga, on poster left, have placed Mugabe under house arrest and have allowed him limited movement while talks on his exit from office unfold. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)


Nov. 14: Armored personnel carriers are seen on the outskirts of the capital, Harare. The military moves in overnight, taking control of the state-run broadcaster.

An armed soldier patrols a street in Harare, Zimbabwe, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Zimbabwe's army said Wednesday it has President Robert Mugabe and his wife in custody and is securing government offices and patrolling the capital's streets following a night of unrest that included a military takeover of the state broadcaster. (AP Photo)


Nov. 15: The military announces that Mugabe is under house arrest and an operation has begun to arrest “criminals” around him who harmed the economy. Unpopular first lady Grace Mugabe, who many feared would replace Mnangagwa and even succeed her husband, disappears from view.

In this Feb. 27, 2016 photo, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace attend his birthday celebrations in Masvingo. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)    


Nov. 16: State-run media publish extraordinary photos of a smiling Mugabe shaking hands with the army commander at the State House amid negotiations on the president’s exit as the military tries to avoid accusations of a coup.

A person passes a newspaper headline in Harare, Zimbabwe, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017. People across the country are starting another day of uncertainty amid quiet talks to resolve the country's political turmoil and the likely end of President Robert Mugabe's decades-long rule. Mugabe has been in military custody and there is no sign of the recently fired deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, who fled the country last week. (AP Photo)


Nov. 17: The army, which continues to refer to Mugabe as president, allows him to make his first public appearance since house arrest. He appears at a graduation ceremony to polite applause.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe sits for formal photographs with university officials, after presiding over a student graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe Open University on the outskirts of Harare, Zimbabwe Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. Mugabe made his first public appearance since the military put him under house arrest earlier this week. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)


Nov. 18: The bulk of the capital’s roughly 1.6 million people pour into the streets in an anti-Mugabe demonstration that even days ago would have brought a police crackdown.

A crowd of thousands of protesters demanding President Robert Mugabe stand down gather in front of an army cordon on the road leading to State House in Harare, Zimbabwe Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. In a euphoric gathering that just days ago would have drawn a police crackdown, crowds marched through Zimbabwe's capital on Saturday to demand the departure of President Robert Mugabe, one of Africa's last remaining liberation leaders, after nearly four decades in power. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)


Nov. 19: The ruling party Central Committee expels Mugabe as party leader and tells him to step aside as president by noon Monday or face impeachment. In a speech on national television, he does not announce his resignation as expected.

Zimbabweans watch a televised address to the nation by President Robert Mugabe at a bar in downtown Harare, Zimbabwe Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017. Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has baffled the country by ending his address on national television without announcing his resignation. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)


Nov. 20: More protests are vowed as some Zimbabweans question the military’s position.

A happy protester pulls a face as he and others stand under a large national flag, at a demonstration of tens of thousands at Zimbabwe Grounds in Harare, Zimbabwe Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. Opponents of Mugabe are demonstrating for the ouster of the 93-year-old leader who is virtually powerless and deserted by most of his allies. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

An army soldier stands guard as protesters demanding President Robert Mugabe stands down gather on the road leading to State House in Harare, Zimbabwe Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. In a euphoric gathering that just days ago would have drawn a police crackdown, crowds marched through Zimbabwe's capital on Saturday to demand the departure of President Robert Mugabe, one of Africa's last remaining liberation leaders, after nearly four decades in power. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A protester holds a banner referring to President Mugabe as "grandfather", at a demonstration at Zimbabwe Grounds in Harare, Zimbabwe Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. Opponents of Mugabe are demonstrating for the ouster of the 93-year-old leader who is virtually powerless and deserted by most of his allies. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A protester demanding President Robert Mugabe stands down wears leaves on his head as he marches towards State House in Harare, Zimbabwe Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. In a euphoric gathering that just days ago would have drawn a police crackdown, crowds marched through Zimbabwe's capital on Saturday to demand the departure of President Robert Mugabe, one of Africa's last remaining liberation leaders, after nearly four decades in power. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Protesters gather at a demonstration of tens of thousands at Zimbabwe Grounds in Harare, Zimbabwe Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. Opponents of Mugabe are demonstrating for the ouster of the 93-year-old leader who is virtually powerless and deserted by most of his allies. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Zimbabweans sing and pray at a Christian peace and prayer rally in downtown Harare, Zimbabwe Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017. A day after huge crowds rallied peacefully in the capital for 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe to step down, Zimbabweans around the country attended Sunday church services and peace rallies, praying for the future of their country. Sign in Shona at right reads "It was Jesus who planned it". (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Zimbabweans sing and pray at a Christian peace and prayer rally in downtown Harare, Zimbabwe Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017. A day after huge crowds rallied peacefully in the capital for 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe to step down, Zimbabweans around the country attended Sunday church services and peace rallies, praying for the future of their country. Sign in Shona at right reads "It was Jesus who planned it". (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Protesters wear t-shirts calling for Robert Mugabe to step down, at a demonstration at Zimbabwe Grounds in Harare, Zimbabwe, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. Opponents of Mugabe are demonstrating for the ouster of the 93-year-old leader who is virtually powerless and deserted by most of his allies. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

People walk past a partly torn down ruling party banner that showed Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's face at the Zanu pf headquarters in Harare, Zimbabwe Sunday Nov. 19, 2017.  Clinging to his now virtually powerless post, longtime President Mugabe on Sunday was set to discuss his expected exit with the army commander who put him under house arrest, while the ruling party prepared to recall the world's oldest head of state as its leader. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

People walk past a partly torn down ruling party banner that showed Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's face at the Zanu pf headquarters in Harare, Zimbabwe Sunday Nov. 19, 2017.  Clinging to his now virtually powerless post, longtime President Mugabe on Sunday was set to discuss his expected exit with the army commander who put him under house arrest, while the ruling party prepared to recall the world's oldest head of state as its leader. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)


Text from the AP news story, Zimbabwe’s political drama: What just happened? A timeline.

Photos by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi and Ben Curtis