The only leader Zimbabwe has known in 37 years of independence, Robert Mugabe has announced his resignation as President of the country at a meeting of invited journalists.
Mugabe’s resignation comes after tensions rose in Harare, Zimbabwe on Tuesday as armoured vehicles, military police, and soldiers from Zimbabwe’s powerful military drove through the outskirts of the capital, a day after the head of the armed forces said he was prepared to “step in” to end a purge of supporters of sacked vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Previous calls and impeachments in the past years to pull Robert Mugabe off his seat as President of Zimbabwe failed.
The call for him to step down intensified after an unexpected dismissal of his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa who was described by Robert Mugabe as disloyal.
While the officials of Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front have vigorously defended Mugabe in the past, they now say they have lost confidence in him after his unjustifiable dismissal of Mr. Mnangagwa.
The sacking in the early hours of last week Monday has had serious consequences for the country’s security and deepened the rift within the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF).
“The time has arrived for him [ Robert Mugabe] to step down and allow the country to be led forward by a new collective at a government level,” Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai (MDC-T) said in a statement.
In an emotion-filled, nationally televised speech, the culmination of years of pressure amidst immediate protest against the decision proposed to sack his deputy, Mugabe said his wife Grace Mugabe would be sworn in to succeed him at noon tomorrow. “The leadership of Zimbabwe will be in good hands,” Robert Mugabe said, his voice wavering.
“I would have preferred to carry through to the finish, whatever the personal agony it would have involved, and my family unanimously urged me to do so. But the interest of the nation must always come before any personal considerations.”
Mugabe concluded the 10-minute address with no good day, just a prayer:
“May God’s grace be with you all in the days ahead.” With this Mugabe ended his career in Zimbabwe’s politics.
He also ended an unprecedented constitutional crisis coupled with taxation flaws that had divided the nation and dangerously slowed the work of government and compelling some prominent figures in his administration planning to resign with immediate effect.
“As we look to the future, the first essential is to begin healing the wounds of this nation,” Mugabe said, “to put the bitterness and divisions of the recent past behind us and to discover the shared ideals that lie at the heart of our strength and unity as a great and as a free people.”
Mugabe did not directly mention the military’s increasingly loud cries for his removal. Most of the demands had come from his own party.
But he did concede that he had decided to resign when it became evident to him that he no longer has sufficient political base in Congress to continue in office.
From the discussions I have had with congressional and other leaders, I have concluded that because of the constitutional crisis, I might not have the support of the Congress that I would consider necessary to back the very difficult decision to carry out the duties of this office in the way the interests of the nation would require,” he said.