Robert Mugabe resigned as President of Zimbabwe, parliament speaker Jacob Mudenda has said in a public statement Tuesday afternoon.
Mugabe’s announcement came during a parliamentary hearing held to impeach him, following a week of political instability and civil unrest caused. The 93-year-old President submitted a letter to the parliament in which he stated the decision to resign was voluntary on his part.
Impeachment procedures against Mugabe started earlier on Tuesday, and were initiated by the ruling Zanu-PF in order to remove him and his wife from power, and were endorsed by the opposition. The same party also voted to make Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe’s Vice President Mugabe abruptly fired earlier in November, its leader.
Parliament speaker Jacob Mudenda’s announcement was immediately met with widespread celebrations across Zimbabwe. The capital Harare saw masses of people flocking the streets rejoicing over the end of Mugabe’s 37-year reign. The Africa Unity square hosted the largest congregation of people, many of whom were waving Zimbabwean flags and chanting.
The case for impeachment against Mugabe was made on the basis of him allowing his wife, First Lady Grace Mugabe, to “usurp constitutional power,” with his age and declining health also being the focal point of the proceedings.
The parliamentary hearing held earlier today also saw Zimbabwe’s Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa break his week-long silence on the issue and show his support to those calling Mugabe to step down.
Zimbabwean military, whose takeover last week left many of Mugabe’s supporters either detained or fleeing the country, stated that it has no intention of holding the power, which, according to the constitution, should belong to Mr. Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa, a veteran of Zimbabwe’s liberation war that went on for nearly two decades in the early 1970s, was removed from his post as Vice President on Nov.6, after which he fled the country due to safety concerns.
Robert Mugabe resigns but what happens now?
British Prime Minister Theresa May said in an official statement addressing Mugabe’s resignation that it gave Zimbabwe “an opportunity to forge a new path free of the oppression that characterized his rule.”
She also added that she shared Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s opinion that there is hope for change in Zimbabwe, but that “nobody wants simply to see the transition from one unelected tyrant to the next.”
Her statement remains mostly in line with the plans the ruling Zanu-PF party had for the transition of power. Claiming that the only legally acceptable course of action is for Vice President Mnangagwa to assume the presidential seat, Zimbabwe’s military seems to agree with the general notion that Mnangagwa is a suitable successor to Mugabe.
With many Zimbabweans desperate for a change in power after decades of economic mismanagement and skyrocketing inflation, Mugabe’s resignation is widely regarded as being a critical turning point that has the potential to stabilize Zimbabwe and relieve its people from the deep poverty it’s encumbered in.