A President Is Forced to Say Goodbye

December 1, 2017

Thirty-seven years—that’s how long Robert Mugabe ruled the country of Zimbabwe before a military coup took place earlier this month, forcing him to resign as president. But the coup wasn’t exactly typical. There wasn’t a street curfew in the capital city of Harare, nor was there a military personnel set to take over as the leader, and when the military reached President Mugabe, there wasn’t a forceful arrest.

Six days after the military took over the capital and put President Mugabe under house arrest, President Mugabe wrote a letter of resignation, stating “I have resigned to allow smooth transfer of power. Kindly give public notice of my decision as soon as possible.”

President Robert Mugabe visits South Africa, 8 Apr 2015, By GovernmentZA via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

But why remove someone from power who was elected by the people to lead the country for the last thirty-seven years? It was a combination of things: the failing economy, the overspending of the First Lady Grace Mugabe (her nickname is “Gucci Grace”), and more recently, the firing of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa. To some, former President Mugabe also became less of a president and more of a dictator, taking over the media and using violence to force people to listen to him or to vote his way.

By User:DandjkRoberts (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
So now what? Former Vice President Mnangagwa is now President of Zimbabwe (how’s that for a turn of events?), and Mugabe and his wife have negotiated a deal that will allow them to keep their salary for life, avoid prosecution, as well as keep their home, among other things. Mugabe’s high-level supporters, on the other hand, have been arrested.