After a little more than a week full of confusion and uncertainty, Zimbabweans finally have their answer as President Robert Mugabe resigns. Parliament speaker, Jacob Mudenda, made the announcement and was greeted with cheers.
President Mugabe sent in a letter which claimed that his decision was voluntary and that he had gone through with it to allow for a smooth transition of power in the country. The announcement put paid to an impeachment hearing that was already in motion against him.
At 93, Mugabe resigns as the world’s oldest leader and strongman. The Presidents letter did not mention who would take over in his stead. Zimbabwe’s constitution says that the honour should fall to the current vice-president Phelekezela Mphoko, a supporter of Grace Mugabe. The Parliament speaker, however, said that moves were under way to make sure that a new leader would be in place by late Wednesday.
With the amount of jubilation and celebration that is emanating from Zimbabwe as Mugabe resigns, it is hard to imagine that he is anything but a hated leader. It has, however, not always been like that. Even detractors and the harshest critics of President Mugabe in his later years often speak about how much they used to admire him.
As Mugabe resigns, we remember some of the greatest moments from his life that still cause some people to admire him.
Mugabe The Freedom Fighter
President Robert Mugabe was labelled a terrorist Marxist and in 1964 was imprisoned by the Rhodesian government. He had fought a lengthy guerrilla war against the white minority government in the capital, Salisbury.
He began his fight as part of Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union but later broke away and led the Zanu-PF party. This part of his history would endear him to scores of people for many years to come.
Winning The Post-independence Election
In 1980 Robert Mugabe won a sweeping victory in Zimbabwe’s elections on the ticket of the radical Zimbabwe African National Union (Patriotic Front) party or Zanu (PF).
He would become Zimbabwe’s first black prime minister. Zanu-PF meanwhile would win 57 of the 80 black seats being contested in the country’s first election since the end of white minority rule. Mugabe therefore had a comfortable majority.
At the time, he seemed willing to bring everyone into the fold, telling a news conference that the new government would include his former chief guerrilla rival, Joshua Nkomo, and his Patriotic Front party, which won 20 seats. He also said that he would consider bringing Europeans into the administration “so as to bring about a government that will be reassuring to all people of Zimbabwe”.
At the announcement of his victory, thousands of black Zimbabweans ran out to the streets joyful. In fact, many of his supporters represented Mugabe’s symbol of the cockerel or jongwe by constant crowing and arm-flapping.
Mugabe’s Almost Nobel Peace Prize
To show how much Mugabe was admired in the earlier days, before the tide turned against him, Mugabe was said to have been considered for the Nobel Peace prize in 1980. This was based on his efforts in working out a transition from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe and his seeming willingness to make the process inclusive.
Mugabe’s Standing Ovations
At Mandela’s memorial, President Mugabe was treated to a standing ovation. It was one of many that he got over the course of his leadership whether for a rallying speech or just by virtue of his being present. The standing ovations have gone to show the indelible imprint that his liberation and empowerment struggles have left for him on the minds of many.
Struggle For Black Empowerment
President Mugabe was the poster boy for black empowerment in Africa. Where he upbraided the West for various slights both real and imagined, he continued to preach the dignity and potential of the black man.
The President also walked the talk in some of his policies in Zimbabwe. For instance, Tim’s 2016 Indigenization law required foreign-owned firms to transfer a majority of their shares to black Zimbabweans. Although the President later went back on a bulk of those policies due to a suffering economy, several black people respected him for fighting for them.