‘The people are free’: Zimbabweans react
to the fall of Robert Mugabe
The news came at 5.30pm, as Zimbabwe’s MPs and senators debated a motion to impeach their president in the conference hall of a five-star hotel in Harare.
Helton Bonongwe, the minister for parliamentary affairs, approached the stage holding a sheet of paper in his hand. There was a moment of silence, and then the hall erupted. After 37 years in power, Robert Mugabe had resigned.
The cheers spread in concentric waves, through the 400 MPs and senators, out into the Rainbow Towers hotel’s reception and bars, through the drivers waiting in the MPs’ luxury SUVs, and on to the streets of Harare, where people sang and whistled and danced in a massive shout of relief and joy.
Emmerson Mnangagwa to be sworn in as Zimbabwe’s president on Friday
Zimbabwe’s former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa has returned to the country and will be sworn in as president on Friday.
Mnangagwa fled for his safety to South Africa two weeks ago when he was sacked by Robert Mugabe, triggering a political crisis that culminated in the resignation of the 93-year-old autocrat on Tuesday.
Mugabe, who ruled the country with an iron grip for 37 years, finally caved to popular and political pressure hours after parliament launched proceedings to impeach him.
He had refused to leave office during eight days of drama and uncertainty that began with a military takeover last week.
Harare was quiet on Wednesday morning after a night of joyous celebration. Traffic was normal and many people were going to work.
“It’s a new day for Zimbabwe. We are smiling,” said Lovemore Simbeli, 19, as he sold newspapers with front pages splashed with headlines announcing Mugabe’s departure.
From liberation fighter to deposed leader – Robert Mugabe’s life in pictures
Mugabe, who stood down on Tuesday, had been in power since April 1980, when the country previously known as Rhodesia was renamed Zimbabwe. He was credited with freeing Zimbabwe from colonialism and white minority rule but had faced years of criticism for building a dictatorship and mismanaging the economy