•Finally, Zimbabwe’s president quits
•Sacked VP to be sworn in tomorrow
Robert Mugabe resigned as Zimbabwe’s president yesterday ending his 37 years rule, a week after the army and his former political allies moved against him.
The resignation letter written by the 93-year-old president that was read out by the speaker of the country’s parliament made no mention of who he was leaving in charge of the country. The speaker added that he was working on legal issues to make sure a new leader was in place by the end of today.
Mugabe’s resignation letter read: “I Robert Gabriel Mugabe in terms of section 96 of the constitution of Zimbabwe hereby formally tender my resignation with immediate effect. My decision to resign is voluntary on my part.
“I have resigned to allow smooth transfer of power. Kindly give the public notice of my decision as soon as possible.”
As at press time, CNN reported that the vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa who was sacked by Mugabe will be sworn in as president tomorrow.
The origin of Mugabe’s sudden downfall lies in rivalry between members of Zimbabwe’s ruling elite over who will succeed him, rather than popular protests against his rule. Mugabe had clung on for a week after an army takeover and expulsion from his own ruling ZANU-PF party, but resigned shortly after parliament began an impeachment process seen as the only legal way to force him out.
Wild celebrations broke out at a joint sitting of parliament when Speaker Jacob Mudenda announced Mugabe’s resignation and suspended the impeachment procedure. People danced and car horns blared on the streets of Harare at news that the era of Mugabe who has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 was finally over.
Some people held posters of Zimbabwean army chief General Constantino Chiwenga and Mnangagwa, whose sacking this month triggered the military takeover that forced Mugabe to resign.
The army seized power after Mugabe sacked Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the ruling party’s favourite to succeed him, to smooth a path to the presidency for his wife, Mrs Grace Mugabe, 52, known to her critics as “Gucci Grace” for her reputed fondness for luxury shopping. It came after Mnangagwa warned Mugabe to respect public opinion and step down after claiming there was a plot to “eliminate” him.
He said he would only return home when his security was assured and has turned down an invitation to meet Mugabe yesterday. Mnangagwa, said the country had “spoken with one voice” and that Mugabe should step down so that Zimbabwe can “move forward.”
He also claimed that shortly after his dismissal as Mugabe’s deputy, he was warned by security personnel “who are friendly to me” that plans “were underfoot to eliminate me once arrested and taken to a police station. It was in my security interest to leave the country immediately.”
Mnangagwa, whose whereabouts are unknown after fleeing the country in fear for his safety, is expected to take over as president. A former security chief known as The Crocodile, he was a key lieutenant to Mugabe for decades and stands accused of participating in repression against Zimbabweans who challenged the leader.
Mugabe is the only leader Zimbabwe has known since a guerrilla struggle ended white-minority rule in the former Rhodesia. During his reign, he took the once-rich country to economic ruin and kept his grip on power through repression of opponents, although he styled himself as the Grand Man of African politics and kept the admiration of many people across Africa.
But Mugabe refused to resign, prompting the impeachment procedure which would have been the only legal was to force him out.
Prior to the current crisis, there has been reports that Mnangagwa was plotting to succeed Mugabe, with army backing, at the helm of a broad coalition. The plot posited an interim unity government with international blessing to allow for Zimbabwe’s re-engagement with the world after decades of isolation from global lenders and donors.
Mugabe led Zimbabwe’s liberation war and is hailed as one of post-colonial Africa’s founding fathers and a staunch supporter of the drive to free neighboring South Africa from apartheid in 1994.
But many say he has damaged Zimbabwe’s economy, democracy and judiciary by staying in power for too long and has used violence to crush perceived political opponents.
The country faces a foreign exchange payments crisis and roaring inflation. Since the crisis began, Mugabe has been mainly confined to his “Blue Roof” mansion in the capital where Grace is also believed to be.
…His political timeline
1964: Imprisoned by Rhodesian government
1980: Mugabe named prime minister after independence elections
1982: Military action begins in Matabeleland against perceived uprising; government is accused of killing thousands of civilians
1987: Mugabe changes constitution and becomes president
1994: Mugabe receives honorary British knighthood
1996: Marries Grace Marufu
2000: Loses referendum, land seizures of white-owned farms begin; Western donors cut off aid
2005: United States calls Zimbabwe an “outpost of tyranny”
2008: Comes second in first round of elections to main opposition leader of MDC party, Morgan Tsvangirai who pulls out of run-off amid nationwide attacks on his supporters; Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II annuls Mugabe’s honorary knighthood
2009: Amid economic collapse, swears in Mr Tsvangirai as prime minister, who serves in uneasy government of national unity for four years
2011: Prime Minister Tsvangirayi declares power-sharing a failure amid violence
2013: Mugabe wins seventh term; opposition alleges election fraud.
How his exit started
November 6: Mugabe fires his longtime deputy Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, later accusing him of plotting to take power via witchcraft. Mnangagwa flees the country.
November 13: Army commander Constantino Chiwenga issues a rare public rebuke, saying the military won’t hesitate to ‘step in’ to calm political tensions and criticizing the handling of the once-prosperous southern African nation’s crumbling economy.
November 14: Armored personnel carriers are seen on the outskirts of the capital, Harare. The military moves in overnight, taking control of the state-run broadcaster.
November 15: The military announces that Mugabe is under house arrest and an operation has begun to arrest ‘criminals’ around him who harmed the economy. Unpopular first lady Grace Mugabe, who many feared would replace Mnangagwa and even succeed her husband, disappears from view.
November 16: State-run media publish extraordinary photos of a smiling Mugabe shaking hands with the army commander at the State House amid negotiations on the president’s exit as the military tries to avoid accusations of a coup.
November 17: The army, which continues to refer to Mugabe as president, allows him to make his first public appearance since house arrest. He appears at a graduation ceremony to polite applause.
November 18: The bulk of the capital’s roughly 1.6 million people pour into the streets in an anti-Mugabe demonstration that even days ago would have brought a police crackdown.
November 19: The ruling party Central Committee expels Mugabe as party leader and tells him to step aside or face impeachment. In a speech on national television, he does not announce his resignation as expected.
November 20: The ruling party’s Central Committee says it will begin impeachment proceedings. The military says Mugabe and Mnangagwa have made contact and the fired deputy will return to Zimbabwe ‘shortly.’
November 21: Mnangagwa calls on Mugabe to heed the will of Zimbabwe’s people and resign immediately. The ruling party begins impeachment proceedings, which are halted so Mugabe’s resignation letter can be read, to cheers.
His famous quotes
“I have died many times. I have actually beaten Jesus Christ because he only died once.”
“Only God who appointed me will remove me.”
“If President Barack Obama wants me to allow marriage for same-sex couples in my country (Zimbabwe), he must come here so that I marry him first.”
“Sometimes you look back at girls you spent money on rather than send it to your mum and you realise witchcraft is real”
“I am still the Hitler of the time. This Hitler has only one objective: justice for his people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people and their rights over their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be Hitler tenfold. Ten times, that is what we stand for.”
“Dont fight even over girlfriends. The country is full of beautiful women. If you cant get one, come to Mugabe for assistance.”
“Our votes must go together with our guns. After all, any vote we shall have, shall have been the product of the gun. The gun which produces the vote should remain its security officer – its guarantor. The people’s votes and the people’s guns are always inseparable twins.”
“South Africans will kick down a statue of a dead white man but won’t even attempt to slap a live one. Yet they can stone to death a black man simply because he’s a foreigner”
“The only white man you can trust is a dead white man.”
“Mr Bush, Mr. Blair and now Mr Brown’s sense of human rights precludes our people’s right to their God-given resources, which in their view must be controlled by their kith and kin. I am termed dictator because I have rejected this supremacist view and frustrated the neo-colonialists.”
“We have fought for our land, we have fought for our sovereignty, small as we are we have won our independence and we are prepared to shed our blood…. So, Blair keep your England, and let me keep my Zimbabwe.”
“The Commonwealth is a mere club, but it has become like an ‘Animal Farm’ where some members are more equal than others. How can Blair claim to regulate and direct events and still say all of us are equals?”
“We don’t mind having sanctions banning us from Europe. We are not Europeans.”
“Our economy is a hundred times better, than the average African economy. Outside South Africa, what country is [as good as] Zimbabwe? … What is lacking now are goods on the shelves-that is all.”
“Countries such as the U.S. and Britain have taken it upon themselves to decide for us in the developing world, even to interfere in our domestic affairs and to bring about what they call regime change.”