Mariah Partin, Staff Writer
After 37 years of power, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has officially resigned. Until his resignation, Mugabe was the world’s oldest leader, retiring at the age of 93.
His ruling party, Zanu-PF says that former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa will succeed Mugabe who has been in power since 1980. According to BBC News, at the resignation announcement, lawmakers and legislators celebrated and danced. The celebrations however, were not limited to inside parliament, throughout the streets people cheered and blared their horns to signal the end of the Mugabe era. Zimbabweans dressed up, sang, and celebrated with the army. People rejoiced, for they feared that the day would never come. According to the New York Times, the crowd grew to thousands of people. His resignation comes after an impeachment plot and a week after the military started to move against him. After six days of uncertainty and calls for his resignation, the leader finally granted the people’s wish. The New York Times reported that the military took Mugabe into custody a week prior to his resignation. Mugabe controlled Zimbabwe by giving power to his allies and crushing any opposition or dissenting opinion. He refused to step down even after his expulsion from Zanu-
PF, then a rival party. Movement for Democratic Change also seconded the motion for
Mugabe to go.
The resignation briefly united the two opposing parties. After Mugabe dominated Zimbabwe for so long, the people are ready for change. Following Mugabe’s unexpected firing of his Vice President Mnangagwa, he was accused of paving the way for his wife to succeed him. People were concerned that Mugabe kept other rivals at bay for his 52-year-old wife Grace.
Zimbabweans see that he allowed her to usurp power as he was too old to fulfill his duties.
Mnangagwa’s succession however has some concerned. He was accused of ordering the crackdown in the 1980’s that killed thousands of members of the Ndebele ethnic group. He is also known for enforcing some of Mugabe’s most ruthless policies, and being behind the deadly violence at the 2008 election to rig the polls.
Citizens should still be cautious, as it seems Mnangagwa or “the crocodile,” as he is known, may not be the savior that Zimbabwe’s people are looking for. NPR reports from Zimbabwean journalist Michelle Faul that this revolution is not to bring reform, but rather to ensure Zanu-PF continues its one-party rule of Zimbabwe. He too is blamed for allowing the economy to tumble and for pushing an agenda. For now, the people continue celebrating.
Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the UK, Zimbabwe’s former colonial ruler welcomed Mugabe’s departure and showed support for the future of Zimbabwe’s free, fair and inclusive elections. The New York Times also states that many of Mugabe’s allies have fled the country. Former supporters have also quickly changed their views on the former president, denying ever being a supporter. Change will not be easy. Some have sympathy, despite viewing him as a tyrant, he was still an important fatherly figure in the nation’s history. Others who worked with him believe he was a victim to his surroundings and of those who could exercise more power and take advantage of his frailty.
The Guardian reports that Mugabe and his wife will receive at least a 10 million-dollar payoff and immunity from prosecution for his family. Both the former president and his wife will continue being paid for the rest of their lives, despite leaving Zimbabwe with a worthless currency, massive debt and poverty.