WATCH | Zimbabweans dance in the streets as Mugabe resigns

21 November 2017 - 18:37 By Reuters And Timeslive

Robert Mugabe resigned as Zimbabwe’s president on Tuesday‚ shortly after parliament began an impeachment process to end his nearly four decades of rule.

Parliament was convened to impeach him with all political parties and independent legislators singing from the same hymn book. There was so much interest parliament had to be moved to the 5‚000 seater Harare International Conference Centre.

But just before the speaker of parliament could wrap up business of the day‚ the minister of legal affairs Happyton Bonyongwe arrived with the resignation letter.

“My decision to resign is voluntary on my part….My desire is to ensure a peaceful non-violent transition‚” read the letter.

The 93-year-old clung on for a week after an army takeover and expulsion from his own ruling ZANU-PF party‚ which also told him to relinquish power.

Wild celebrations broke out at the joint sitting of parliament when Speaker Jacob Mudenda announced Mugabe’s resignation and suspended the impeachment procedure.

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.

The army seized power after Mugabe sacked his deputy and ZANU-PF’s favourite to succeed him‚ Emmerson Mnangagwa‚ to smooth a path to the presidency for his wife Grace‚ 52‚ known to her critics as “Gucci Grace” for her reputed fondness for luxury shopping.

Mnangagwa‚ a former security chief known as The Crocodile‚ is expected to take over as president.

The announcement saw jubilation in the streets of Harare‚ with many Zimbabweans dancing in the streets.

Earlier on Tuesday Mnangagwa had implored the statesman to step down.

“The people of Zimbabwe have clearly spoken on this matter. To me the voice of the people is the voice of God and their lack of trust and confidence in the leadership of President Mugabe has been expressed.”

Mnangagwa said if Mugabe resigned the “country can move forward and preserve his legacy”.

A similar call was made by Botswana President Ian Khama who called on Mugabe in an open letter to do the “honourable thing” and resign.

“If you really care for them (Zimbabweans)‚ as you profess‚ and if you cannot find it in you to do so‚ then as a Christian do so in the spirit of our Lord in order to usher in a new period going forward of unity‚ peace and prosperity for Zimbabweans and allow your country to be the economic powerhouse it is capable of being.”

The open letter was posted on the Botswana government’s Facebook page.

Khama added that Zimbabweans have been subject to “untold suffering” for a long time due to poor governance under Mugabe’s leadership and his resignation will pave the way for socio-economic recovery.

On Monday Zambian President Edgar Lungu sent former president Kenneth Kaunda‚ 93‚ to try to convince Mugabe to step down.

“Dr Kaunda used the presidential jet and has already arrived in Harare‚” a senior government source told Reuters on Monday.

Before Mugabe’s resignation‚ President Jacob Zuma had planned to travel to Zimbabwe on Wednesday.

Presidential spokesperson Dr Bongani Ngqulunga confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that Zuma would travel to Zimbabwe in his capacity as Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Zuma would be joined by Angolan President and Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics‚ Defence and Security João Lourenço. This follows a summit of the SADC Organ Troika plus Chairperson that was held in Luanda‚ Angola‚ on Tuesday.

It is unclear whether the group will continue with the planned trip.

- additional reporting by Reuters