WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Robert Mugabe has been Zimbabwe’s president since its independence in 1980.
- Mugabe has held on to his post for 37 years and once declared that “only God will remove me.”
- On Tuesday, Mugabe resigned as president immediately after lawmakers started impeachment proceedings against the world’s oldest head of state.
Jacob Mudenda, the speaker of the Parliament, read out the letter which Mr. Mugabe wrote that he was stepping down “with immediate effect” for “the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and the need for a peaceful transfer of power.”
The 93-year-old refused to resign even after being expelled from his own political party, ZANU-PF, on Sunday. Mugabe controlled the nation by keeping his power within his allies and crushing opposition.
The party members introduced a motion of impeachment on Tuesday, citing a constitutional process that had never been used. ZANU-PF’s political rival, the Movement for Democratic Change, seconded the motion, signaling that Mugabe must go. He was taken into custody by the military last Wednesday.
After Mudenda read out the letter, elation erupted across the nation as lawmakers burst into cheers and rejoicing residents surged into the streets of its capital, Harare. Opposing political parties shook hands and hugged.
“It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to Zimbabwe,” Perseverance Sande, 20, one of the locals said, “I’ve been waiting so long for this moment.”
In Africa Unity Square, jubilations were heard shortly after the speaker’s announcement. As the news began to spread, thousands of people gathered to the square, jumping for joy and hugging each other.
32-year-old street vendor Presca Nzendora said, “I’m happy. Bob has resigned! We were starving because of him.”
Taxi driver Nicholas Nyamaka, 65, said: “I used to think it would never come. It’s a dream come true. So finally the suffering is over.”
There was a TV broadcast airing that Mugabe had resigned and that a new president could be sworn on Wednesday. Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s vice president, is widely expected to be in charge until the national elections next year. Mnangagwa was unexpectedly fired by Mugabe last week, which triggered an internal revolt.
Mnangagwa broke his silence and urged the dictator to step down. “He should take heed of this clarion call by the people of Zimbabwe to resign so that the country can move forward and preserve his legacy,” Mnangagwa said.
Mugabe ruled the nation for almost four decades by repressing his opponents and rewarding his allies. He is responsible for thousands of civilian massacre in the 1980s. He outplayed rivals in his own party and in the opposition even in his 90s.
Mugabe may be a tyrant, but according to many, he was also the nation’s father figure.
David Mushakwe, 35, a car electrician said, “I just want to say to His Excellency: ‘Go and rest now, our father. We still love you. But we’re happy today. We’re hoping now for a better future.’”
Source: The New York Times