Robert Mugabe has resigned as President of Zimbabwe after 37 years in office, parliament speaker Jacob Mudenda announced on Tuesday. Mugabe had sent the speaker a letter tendering his resignation “with immediate effect.” The announcement came shortly after the start of impeachment proceedings against the Zimbabwean leader.
The ruling ZANU-PF had already announced the dimissal of the 93-year old statesman as head of the party in Harare on Sunday, but he had initially refused to step down as the country’s president. News of his resignation was met with cheers inside parliament.
Mugabe’s 37-year term as Zimbabwe’s head of state was marked by a number of strongly worded speeches, particularly against what he asserted was Western imperialism. He at one time called Zimbabwe “a victim of the evil machinations of Western countries, namely the United States of America and the European Union who continue to apply unilateral sanctions and illegal sanctions as a foreign policy tool to achieve short-term political objectives.”
“Shame, shame, shame we say, to the United States of America! Shame, shame, shame we say, to Britain and its allies, who have continued to impose sanctions, illegal sanctions upon our people. Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans and so are its ample resources,” he told the United Nations General Council in 2013.
There followed controversial 2015 comments on LGBTQ rights that shocked the UN General Assembly, where Mugabe asserted before world leaders, “we equally reject attempts to prescribe ‘new rights’ that are contrary to our values, norms, traditions and beliefs. We are not gays.”
Mugabe helped lead the fight for Zimbabwe’s independence in the 1970s, before coming to power as prime minister in 1980.
Under Mugabe, the 1990s bore witness to the near-collapse of the Zimbabwean economy. The Zimbabwean dollar was eventually abandoned by 2009, after hyper-inflation reached a jaw-dropping two-hundred million percent the year before.
Mugabe sacked his Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa on November 6 this year, in an act many believed was part of a course to allow his wife, popularly known as ‘Gucci Grace,’ to succeed him as president.
On November 15, Mugabe was placed under house arrest as the Zimbabwean army seized the state broadcasting service, which according to the armed forces was to “target criminals” surrounding the president.