After 37 years of uninterrupted rule, Cde Mugabe resigned as State President yesterday.
Literally, the entire country erupted in unbridled joy around 6pm yesterday when it emerged that he had resigned. Motorists blared their horns in central Bulawayo while pedestrians whistled, screamed and cheered as they celebrated the fall of a man who led their liberation struggle, led the Government for so long, but ended up undoing some of the gains of that struggle and curtailing the democracy whose attainment he fought for.
Five years ago, many of us never imagined Cde Mugabe, then much-loved and in total control of himself, party and Government business, could go in such an inglorious, cheap way.
In our view, his biggest mistake was his bid to crush all opposition within the party to brazenly pave way for his wife, Mrs Grace Mugabe, the leader of the G40 faction, to succeed him. He gave her excessive authority over him personally, the party and the Government.
Also, she was veritably uncultured in her interactions with party leaders and members, berating them at her rallies, and threatening to “fire” some from the party and Government. She verbally assaulted senior civil servants, ministers, even the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General Constantino Chiwenga.
The hierarchy as we know it was nothing to her. She had ceased to be the power behind the throne, but actually sat on the throne herself yet we didn’t elect her.
Mrs Mugabe operated with ministers and ex-Zanu-PF Politburo members Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere and Patrick Zhuwao, a quartet whose pomposity was only bettered by their naivety. They took themselves as gods who owned the party and this country. We state here that no one, absolutely no one, cares that they are gone.
Internal party democracy was a big victim. Within the Government the dictates of sound administration was the victim. The economy was also the victim.
Cde Mugabe also alienated himself from his liberation war comrades, the genuine cadres who travelled with him the arduous journey from the liberation struggle to now. He and his cabal systematically fired basically all veterans of the struggle on trumped-up charges, knowing that they were a stumbling block to their sinister, authoritarian succession plan.
On November the 6th, Cde Mugabe fired Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa from his post as vice-president of the party and Government. That Cde Mnangagwa had served Cde Mugabe for 55 years did not matter; what mattered were the lies peddled by Prof Moyo and his acolytes that his former personal assistant was plotting against him. The unceremonious sacking came a few months after Cde Mnangagwa was poisoned. He alleges that Mrs Mugabe’s faction was behind the act.
The sacking of Cde Mnangagwa was to become the incident that sparked a series of events that felled Cde Mugabe.
Gen Chiwenga issued a statement on Monday last week warning that if the purges in Zanu-PF continued, soldiers would intervene. They indeed stepped in on Wednesday targeting criminals who had held Cde Mugabe hostage.
On Friday eight of Zanu-PF’s 10 provinces voted to recall Cde Mugabe as party president and first secretary and demanded the holding of a special Central Committee meeting within 48 hours. On Saturday, Harare and Bulawayo saw huge demonstrations led by war veterans to demand that he leaves office.
On Sunday, the party held the Central Committee meeting in Harare and resolved to remove Cde Mugabe as party leader and demanded that he resign as State president by 12 noon on Monday failure of which impeachment proceedings would begin. The meeting also readmitted Cde Mnangagwa as Vice-President and committed to forward his name as Cde Mugabe’s replacement in the event that he resigned.
Cde Mugabe ignored the deadline, prompting the party to initiate impeachment proceedings. They held a caucus meeting at the party headquarters in Harare, an event that was attended by 230 legislators. This was a huge number of MPs that showed a determination to remove their president.
The party officially informed the Speaker of Parliament, Advocate Jacob Mudenda, yesterday of its intention to impeach Cde Mugabe. Debate ensued but at exactly 17.53 hours the Speaker read Cde Mugabe’s resignation letter.
Zimbabwe is celebrating the departure of a man who had dominated the local political stage. We hope that this opens a new chapter in the history of our country towards economic recovery and development and political tolerance.
The events of the past eight days should have shaken the former president. When you sit at the top for so long, you tend to think you are the beginning and the end of all life. You get detached from reality. You take everything and everyone for granted. You can’t imagine a time will come when you must bid good bye or you are forced out as happened to him over the past eight days.
Indeed his time was simply up.
He had lost the plot and abdicated his authority to his deeply unpopular wife and a band of Johnny-come-latelies who have no sense of history. It all had to end in defeat and humiliation, never mind that he resigned.
For the born-frees and those too young then to remember the experience, 18 April 1980 was like this!