WORLD NEWS
11/21/2017 06:30 pm ET

Zimbabweans Celebrate In The Streets After Mugabe Resignation

But after decades of authoritarian rule, the country faces a long road to reform its repressive political system.

Zimbabwe’s capital city of Harare erupted in exuberant celebration on Tuesday as Robert Mugabe, the country’s 93-year-old authoritarian president, resigned after nearly four decades in office.

Mugabe came to power when white-minority rule ended in 1980, and has said he intended to reign for life. Throughout his lengthy tenure, he’s been accused of systematically violating human rights and violently cracking down on dissent as Zimbabwe spiraled deeper into poverty.

Thousands of elated civilians danced and sang in the streets as news broke that Mugabe was officially stepping down. Many say his political departure, triggered by a military takeover last week, marks a new chapter in the country’s history.

“This is a good day for Zimbabwe. This is a new era for our nation,” one man told BBC News. “It is not a secret that everyone in Zimbabwe has been waiting for this moment,” another woman said. “It’s a fresh start for Zimbabwe.”

Zimbabweans celebrate in the capital city of Harare after President Robert Mugabe resigned on Nov. 21.
Mike Hutchings/Reuters
Zimbabweans celebrate in the capital city of Harare after President Robert Mugabe resigned on Nov. 21.

The ruling ZANU-PF party will soon install Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former deputy, as the new president. But Mnangagwa, a former national security minister who is strongly backed by the military, has been complicit in some of the government’s most egregious abuses of power.

“It’s a change in leadership of individuals, but the authoritarian system remains intact,” cautioned Dewa Mavhinga, the Southern Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The military has been implicated in some of the most serious human rights abuses in Zimbabwe’s past” for which there has been no accountability, he told HuffPost on Tuesday.

But for the time being, Zimbabwe’s political shakeup brings hope to a population that has been opressed for decades under Mugabe’s leadership.

Take a look at some of the celebrations following his resignation on Tuesday:

  • People celebrate in the streets of Harare after the resignation of Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe on Nov. 21.
    TONY KARUMBA via Getty Images
    People celebrate in the streets of Harare after the resignation of Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe on Nov. 21.
  • Car horns blared and cheering crowds raced through the streets Harare as news spread that Mugabe had resigned after 37 years
    MARCO LONGARI via Getty Images
    Car horns blared and cheering crowds raced through the streets Harare as news spread that Mugabe had resigned after 37 years in power.
  • The bombshell announcement sparked scenes of wild celebration in the streets.
    TONY KARUMBA via Getty Images
    The bombshell announcement sparked scenes of wild celebration in the streets.
  • Harare residents celebrate in front of the parliament.
    MUJAHID SAFODIEN via Getty Images
    Harare residents celebrate in front of the parliament.
  • Men celebrate Mugabe's resignation.
    ZINYANGE AUNTONY via Getty Images
    Men celebrate Mugabe's resignation.
  • Zimbabweans shout slogans and dance on top of a car.
    Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    Zimbabweans shout slogans and dance on top of a car.
  • Zimbabwe's members of parliament celebrate.
    JEKESAI NJIKIZANA via Getty Images
    Zimbabwe's members of parliament celebrate.
  • Mugabe was swept from power as his 37-year reign of brutality and autocratic control crumbled within days of a military
    JEKESAI NJIKIZANA via Getty Images
    Mugabe was swept from power as his 37-year reign of brutality and autocratic control crumbled within days of a military takeover.
  • Zimbabweans celebrate.
    Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    Zimbabweans celebrate.
  • People remove Mugabe's portrait from the wall at the International Conference center.
    JEKESAI NJIKIZANA via Getty Images
    People remove Mugabe's portrait from the wall at the International Conference center.
  • People celebrate in the streets of Harare.
    TONY KARUMBA via Getty Images
    People celebrate in the streets of Harare.
  • Zimbabweans shouts as they gather at Unity square opposite to the parliament.
    MUJAHID SAFODIEN via Getty Images
    Zimbabweans shouts as they gather at Unity square opposite to the parliament.
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