After being president for 37 years, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe has finally stepped down. At 93, he was the world’s oldest leader. Mugabe headed the country since its independence from Britain in 1980. In his letter of resignation, Mugabe said he would allow the peaceful transition of power to his successor.
Moments after the announcement, people started celebrating in the country’s capital Harare and elsewhere in the country. While some see him as a great African hero and statesmen, a majority of the population regard Mugabe as a dictator who has economically brought down the southern African nation. He is criticised for using his power to crush opposition leaders and crack down on his political opponents.
After holding on to power for decades, Mugabe made his biggest mistake by trying to make his wife, Grace, instead of his Vice President his successor. In the days and weeks before finally stepping down, the military took control of the country and put Mugabe under house arrest.
When it became clear that the end was closing in, his own party, Zanu PF, removed him as party leader and started an impeachment process. After Mugabe’s resignation, opposition leaders are calling for quick and fair elections.
After Britain’s colony Southern Rhodesia became Zimbabwe in 1980, Robert Mugabe was the first, and only, black president. In sweeping economic changes, he nationalized white-owned private farms. Instead of being given to poor black people, Mugabe gave them to generals and his loyal followers. As a result, food production went down and the country’s people started suffering from hunger.
After independence, about 3 million people left the country for neighbouring South Africa. Those who stayed were left without work. Today unemployment is estimated at 80%. Tourism has slowed down and industrial output has decreased. Zimbabwe’s diamond mines, the largest source of income, are now run by the army.
- announcement = official statement that can be heard by everyone
- celebrate = to have fun and be happy
- crack down on = here: to be strict with someone and punish them
- crush = here: to stop someone from getting too powerful
- decade = ten years
- decrease = to go down
- economically = about money, trade and business in a country
- election = when people vote to chose someone for an official position
- estimated = thought to be …
- head = to be the leader
- house arrest = to be kept a prisoner by the government; you have to stay inside your house rather than in prison
- impeachment = when an important member of the government, often the president, has committed a serious crime and a special court decides if he can keep his job
- independence = being free from the control of another country
- industrial output = what factories can produce in a given time
- loyal followers = people who admire and support him a lot
- majority = most of the people
- nationalize = when the government takes control of a private company
- opponent = rival
- opposition leaders = the people who were against him
- peaceful = not violent
- population = the people who live in a country
- regard = think of someone as ….
- remove = replace
- resignation = to announce that you have decided to give up your job
- source of income = where you get your money from
- statesman =political leader who is respected as being wise and fair
- step down = to give up power and control of a country
- sweeping = things that make a big difference
- transition of power = when you give up power and another person takes over
- unemployment = people who are out of work and don’t have a job