ZIMBABWEAN revolutionary and veteran politician President Robert Gabriel Mugabe has resigned.
The 93-year old Mugabe resigned yesterday following a weeklong political standoff and fears of an attempted coup, which was denied by the military, against his government.
Zimbabwe’s army seized the headquarters of the state broadcaster ZBC in the capital Harare and blocked off access to government offices early on Wednesday last week. Mugabe, who has been at the helm of the country for 37 years, had previously refused to resign despite last week’s military takeover and days of protests.
Announcing the resignation, the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Jacob Mudenda, read a letter from Mr Mugabe who said that the decision was voluntary and that he had made it to allow a smooth transition of power.
The surprise announcement halted an impeachment hearing that had begun against him. Lawmakers roared into jubilation and people have begun celebrating in the streets. The letter did not mention who would take over from Mr Mugabe.
The constitution says it should be the current vice-president, Phelekezela Mphoko, a supporter of Mr Mugabe’s wife, Grace. Mr Mudenda said moves were under way to ensure a new leader could take over by later today.
Born on February 21, 1924 at Kutama Mission village in Southern Rhodesia’s Zvimba District, Mugabe is highly regarded as a true son of the African soil; he can be categorised in the same group with Africa’s greatest leaders such as Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Nelson Mandela of South Africa, just but to mention a few. Mugabe took his first oath of office on April 17, 1980 when he was sworn in as the Prime Minister of the country.
He gave a speech at Salisbury’s Rufaro Stadium announcing that Rhodesia would be renamed “Zimbabwe” and pledged racial reconciliation.
From then onwards he has made a lot of strides in making sure that Zimbabwe prospers, targeting the health and education sectors where his rule has left indelible marks.
All seemed well and in course for the president until last week when the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) put him and his family under house arrest.
They (the army) continued to maintain that they were not planning to stage a coup; rather they were targeting “criminals” around President Robert Mugabe, who have caused social and economic suffering to Zimbabweans and the nation at large.
In its crackdown on the criminals Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo was reported to have been arrested on Wednesday.
The army also demanded an end to the purges in the ruling party, Zanu-PF. About two weeks ago President Mugabe, fired Vice- President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is now widely expected to lead the transitional government.