There’s a wild jubilation across the streets of Harare, Zimbabwe and many parts of the Southern African country. Robert Mugabe, the only president they have ever known since gaining independence from Britain in 1980, has resigned.
The 93-year-old Mugabe has been their president for 37 years. With this latest development, he has made history, but in the negative circle, as Africa’s last liberation-era dictator.
Mugabe falls; the end of an era
For Zimbabweans, Africans, it is the end of an era of repression and suppression. He had ruled the country that was once dubbed a “rising star” with iron fists, leading to economic collapse, inflation and widespread repression of dissent voices.
The announcement was made in parliament by the speaker late on Tuesday (Nov. 21) in Harare in the middle of impeachment proceedings against Mugabe.
Jacob Mudenda read out Mugabe’s resignation speech to MPs who were determined to oust the 93-year-old, who until now had clung to power even after his own party fired him. Euphoria quickly moved to the streets, with Zimbabweans dancing in the streets and hooting their car horns.
The ruling Zanu-PF began instituting the impeachment process after the embattled president failed to meet their demand to step down by noon on Monday. Backed by the ruling party, opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change, tabled the motion. The motion is reportedly based on Mugabe’s advance age—93 years— and allowing his wife to “usurp power.” Then MPs, media and crowds moved to the larger Harare International Conference Centre to continue the process.
Dear Robert Mugabe, the game is over: CHECKMATE!
An anti-colonial hero who led the liberation of Zimbabwe in 1980 and then became its leader, Mugabe is being removed by his erstwhile allies in the military and the ruling party. So far, the largely non-violent coup, dubbed “Operation Restore Legacy,” appears to be welcomed by citizens. The army is expected to back a transitional government led by the new leader of the Zanu-PF, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
In a lengthy statement on Nov. 21, Mnangagwa revealed that Mugabe reached out to him but that he refused to return to the country, fearing for his life. The political impasse was between Mugabe and the citizenry, not between political leaders and Mugabe could either leave with dignity, or “suffer humiliation because definitely the will of the people will prevail,” he said. Once a loyal aide to Mugabe, this stance is likely to further endear Mnangagwa to voters next year.
Mugabe, on the other hand, has become increasingly unpopular. The military’s action was prompted by his attempts to set up his 52 year-old wife, Grace, as his successor. Grace Mugabe’s erratic behavior has led to diplomatic scandals in the past, but it was a decision to fire Mnangagwa as vice president earlier this month that triggered military leaders to “step in.”
New era begins…
Heads of state in southern Africa are currently meeting in the Angolan capital Luanda to discuss how to intervene in Zimbabwe. President Jacob Zuma is expected to travel to Zimbabwe on Nov. 22 on what local media referred to as “a fact-finding machine.”
How did we get here? READ next: How a ‘foolish’ decision led to the outster of Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule!