Tendai H. Manzvanzvike Foreign Editor—
Zimbabwe’S President-designate Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday paid a courtesy call on South African President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria. President Zuma is the current Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (sadc). The meeting came a day after the resignation of Cde Robert Mugabe from office on Tuesday, following a military intervention and massive, but peaceful demonstrations by people countrywide, calling on him to step down.
Cde Mugabe’s resignation was announced by Speaker of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda as a joint sitting of Parliament was preparing to debate a motion to impeach the former President. Reactions from the international community continue to pour in as global leaders, institutions and other friendly nations respond to Cde Mugabe’s resignation.
The South African Parliament said in a statement that it had noted Cde Mugabe’s decision to resign, adding “this should assist with the peaceful transition to a new leadership”. They applauded the peace and discipline shown since the military operation started. “We also commend the restraint displayed by key institutions and ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe in what could have degenerated into an increasingly tense, protracted, and troubled situation,” read the statement from the SA Parliament.
The African National Congress, a sister liberation movement of Zanu-PF through its secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, said they were not celebrating Cde Mugabe’s resignation and urged restraint. “We have taken a view that says we must continue respecting (Cde) Mugabe for the role he played as a freedom fighter. We must continue supporting him for advocating the Africa development programme and we must celebrate him for being a pan-Africanist . . .,” he said.
He said the ANC had taken “an approach that is not as emotional as others, (for) Zanu-PF is our sister party,” Mantashe said.
China, one of the major global players with deep cooperation with Zimbabwe said its policy towards Zimbabwe would not change. Instead, it expected to enhance cooperation with Zimbabwe under “the principles of equality and mutual benefit”, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said yesterday.
Lu said China has a high regard for Cde Mugabe, who made historic contributions to Zimbabwe’s independence and liberation, is an active advocator of Pan-Africanism, and has also made tremendous contributions to the China-Zimbabwe and China-Africa relations, respectively. “China respects Mr Mugabe’s decision to resign. He remains a good friend to the Chinese people,” said Lu.
Lu also told journalists that China will adhere to its principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe, and hoped that other nations will do the same. The African Union (AU) welcomed the resignation of President Mugabe on Tuesday, saying the decision will go down in history as “an act of statesmanship that can only bolster President Mugabe’s political legacy”, said Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission in a statement.
He said Cde Mugabe would be remembered as a fearless Pan-Africanist liberation fighter, and the father of the independent Zimbabwean nation, the AU’s statement said.
Mr Mahamat noted that the AU recognises that the Zimbabwean people have expressed their will and there should be a peaceful transfer of power in a manner that secures the democratic future of their country. Speaking to Guinean media, President Alpha Conde, who is also AU’s chairperson, saluted Cde Mugabe for being a “great fighter” who “will never be forgotten”.
In its statement, the European Union said Cde Mugabe’s resignation demonstrated that he had listened to the voice of the people. “An orderly and irreversible transition towards genuinely democratic elections is our shared objective. The consolidation of the constitutional order and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms are key,” said EU representative Federica Mogherini.
She said the EU stands ready to assist Zimbabwe in achieving a more prosperous and democratic future in cooperation with the AU and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres, encouraged Zimbabweans to “maintain calm and restraint.” United States State Department, in a statement on Tuesday, congratulated the Zimbabwean people saying: “Zimbabwe has a historic opportunity to set itself on a new path.”
United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May said the news of Cde Mugabe’s resignation was an opportunity to “forge a new path free”, she said in a statement.