Parties on the streets as Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe resigns

  • 22/11/2017

Robert Mugabe has resigned as the President of Zimbabwe, effective immediately, after holding power for more than four decades.

A letter from the 93-year-old said the voluntary decision was an effort to ensure a smooth transition of power.

"I Robert Gabriel Mugabe in terms of section 96 of the constitution of Zimbabwe hereby formally tender my resignation... with immediate effect," read parliamentary speaker Jacob Mudenda.

Robert Mugabe, 93, has held power for more than four decades.
Robert Mugabe, 93, has held power for more than four decades. Photo credit: Getty

The announcement came during a parliamentary hearing to impeach him following a military takeover last week.

His decision was met with roars of excitement both inside parliament, and outside as thousands of Zimbabweans heard the news.

Zimbabweans celebrate on the streets.
Zimbabweans celebrate on the streets. Photo credit: Reuters

The ruling ZANU-PF party planned to bring the impeachment motion in parliament on Tuesday after a Monday noon deadline expired for the besieged 93-year-old leader to resign and bring the curtain down on nearly four decades in power.

Impeachment would be an ignominious end to the career of the "Grand Old Man" of African politics, once lauded as an anti-colonial hero and the only leader Zimbabwe has known since it gained independence from Britain in 1980.

The military operation was launched after Robert Mugabe sacked former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, in a move meant to boost his wife Grace Mugabe's chances of succeeding her husband.

State media details Grace Mugabe's demise

Zimbabwe's longstanding government mouthpiece, The Herald newspaper, has abruptly changed its tune on Ms Mugabe, confirmation of her political downfall.

The Herald takes its marching orders from the information ministry and has always reported from the point of view of the winning faction in the ruling ZANU-PF.

In August, the paper ran a typically fawning portrait of Ms Mugabe under the headline "A Loving Mother of the Nation".

Less than three months later and in the wake of a coup that threatens Mr Mugabe's presidency and has seen both he and Ms Mugabe expelled from ZANU-PF, her Herald portrayal was starkly different.

"Grace Mugabe lacked grooming and true motherhood as shown by her foul language," the paper quoted the ZANU-PF's youth wing as saying.

"We take exception to the vulgar language which had become part of Mrs Mugabe's vocabulary," it quoted a Youth League cadre as saying.

Zimbabweans, who are devoutly religious and culturally conservative, take offence at profanities.

The piece featured an unflattering picture of an unsmiling Ms Mugabe - a sharp departure from the "loving mother" portrayal that included photos of her smiling and holding infants.

Until the events of the past week, the political fortunes of Ms Mugabe - dubbed "Gucci Grace" for her shopping sprees - were on the rise, if The Herald's coverage was anything to go on.

Just 12 days ago, the paper was reporting that the Women's League was backing Ms Mugabe in her bid to become vice president. This was days after Mr Mugabe sacked his deputy, Mr Mnangagwa, clearing the path for Ms Mugabe to assume the role and succeed her 93-year-old husband.

It was this tilt at power that triggered the army backlash and appears to have ended her political career.

Reuters / Newshub.