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President Robert Mugabe inspects a military guard of honour in 2011. His hold on Zimbabwe collapsed as the military turned against him in 2017, leading to his ouster / Photo: IRIN

Zimbabwe enters new era as Robert Mugabe goes

Zimbabwe enters a new chapter of his modern history as its leader since its independence in 1980 resigns amid a deep political crisis that now seems peacefully resolved.

Singing has replaced sighing on the streets of Zimbabwe with the news of President Robert Mugabe’s resignation on Tuesday.

The country has been holding its breath since the veteran leader refused to bow to pressure and an army takeover, and he seemed ready to fight to the last.

‘We have a bright future! Because we have all it takes! We have the best economy in the world! We have the minerals, we’ve got the land, we’ve got the skills, we’ve got learned people! Our people are educated and people are hardworking,’ enthused one woman.

Mugabe’s position became untenable when it became clear he had lost the support of his ministers and party.

Mugabe had clearly hoped to rally his government behind him. But the vast majority of his cabinet boycotted a Tuesday meeting, attending his impeachment hearings instead.

Among the thousands of people celebrating could be seen people holding aloft pictures of army chief Constantino Chiwenga and former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa. The sacking of the latter precipitated Mugabe’s downfall and he was sworn in as the new president on Friday.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe’s former vice-president whose sacking led to the shock resignation of long-time leader Robert Mugabe, was sworn in as the new interim president on Friday / Photo: Harere Herald

Mnangagwa, who had fled the country, returned from exile in South Africa on Wednesday. Nicknamed “the Crocodile” for his political shrewdness, Mnangagwa took over the reigns as Zimbabwe’s second president since independence in 1980.

According to reports, Mugabe was granted immunity from prosecution and assured that his safety would be protected as part of a deal that led to his resignation.

A former close Mugabe ally, Mnangagwa’s initial fall from grace appears to have been engineered by the first lady, who lobbied her husband to back her own political ambitions.

Kola Tella with agency reports

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