President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has resigned immediately and voluntarily after managing the Southern African nation for 37 years. The Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda told has told the House that he received a resignation letter from the 93-year-old veteran leader who said hes stepping down in order to have a smooth transfer of power.
The Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda told has told the House that he received a resignation letter from the 93-year-old veteran leader who said he's stepping down in order to have a "smooth transfer of power".
The surprise announcement came as Parliament commenced impeachment proceedings against Mugabe after his party - the ZANU-PF sacked him as their leader on Saturday and asked him to step down as state president.
Lawmakers roared in jubilation and people have begun celebrating in the streets.
Speaker Mudenda read out Mugabe's letter to a cheering and dancing Parliament.
The resignation a week after the military deployed on the streets, took over the national television but stopped short of dismissing the president. In a statement, the military led by General Constantine Chiwenga, a longtime ally of Mugabe, insisted theirs was not a military coup but went ahead to ask President Mugabe to resign.
The military was angered by Mugabe's decision early this month of firing his deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, an act many saw as a move by the veteran leader to position his wife, Grace Mugabe, to succeed him.
Grace, Mugabe's former secretary who became his wife in 1996, has been heading the Women's wing of the ruling party since 2014. Just like her husband, the 52-year-old Grace was also expelled from the party at the weekend.
The impeachment proceedings commenced by parliament today included that Mugabe allowed his wife to usurp constitutional power" and that he is "of advanced age" and too incapacitated to rule.
ZANU-PF party says Mnangagwa, nicknamed the Crocodile because of his political machinations, will take over as leader within 48 hours.
Mnangagwa had fled to South Africa immediately after being sacked as vice president saying that he feared for his life. He is believed to have returned to Zimbabwe last week, shortly after the military take over.
In a statement earlier today, Mnangagwa said he had been warned about a plan to "eliminate" him and was reluctant to return home until his safety was guaranteed. He urged Robert Mugabe to "take heed of this clarion call by the people of Zimbabwe to resign" so that the country could move forward.
Mugabe initially defied calls to step down, even after crowds gathered on the streets of Harare and Bulawayo calling for his resignation. He did address the nation on Sunday night with many expecting him to announce his resignation.
Instead, the veteran revolutionary leader called for unity and asked his country to avoid politics of bitterness. He nevertheless admitted that there was a problem and that the military was right to intervene.
But his televised speech on November 19 was silent on the call to resign, apart from announcing that he would chair the party congress "in the coming weeks" and calling on Zimbabweans to "get ready for the planting season.
Mugabe took over power in Zimbabwe at Independence in 1980 after years of war launched by his ZANU-PF against the White minority rule of Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith. Upon taking over power, Mugabe renamed the country Zimbabwe.
Soon the country was in a crisis as the national army launched the Gukurahundi, a series of massacres of Ndebele civilians from early 1983 to late 1984. Spearheaded by Mnangagwa, the operation targeted supporters of Joshua Nkomo who challenged Mugabe for the top seat. Gukurahundi derives from a Shona language term meaning "the early rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains".
Nkomo was from the Ndebele tribe while Mugabe is a Shona.
In his attempt to redistribute land in the late 1990s and early 2000s, his supporters went on a campaign of violence targeting white-owned farms. In the end the economy of the country nearly collapsed as agricultural output went down and Zimbabwe was put under sanctions.
He still hang on depending on the military to silence dissenting voices.
It is the same military whose intervention is a major factor in Mugabe's resignation.