Zimbabwe Declares Robert Mugabe’s Birthday Public Holiday

by Bamidele Ogunberu Last updated on December 4th, 2017,

Harare, Zimbabwe : Zimbabwe has made former president Robert Mugabe’s birthday a public holiday nearly a week after the long-time ruler resigned.

“It is hereby declared that February 21 of every year henceforth shall be a public holiday to be known as the Robert Mugabe National Youth Day,” according to the government gazette.

The move follows intense lobbying by the ruling ZANU-PF party’s youth league and came weeks after the country’s biggest airport was renamed after the veteran politician who ruled Zimbabwe for nearly 40 years.

His tenure withstood repeated claims of hanging on to power through brutal repression of dissent, election rigging and corruption, until concerted pressure from the military finally forced to quit.

Parliament had begun proceedings to impeach Mugabe for allowing his wife and a coterie of followers to “capture” the ruling party.

The 93-year-old was replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was vice president until Mugabe fired him just weeks ago.

The declaration of his birthday as a holiday is the latest of many accolades.

Zimbabwe’s school of intelligence was named after him while a $1-billion Robert Mugabe university is also in the works.

Several buildings and roads across the country are also named after him.

Zimbabwe’s opposition accuse Mugabe of spending scarce money on wasteful projects despite the country being forced to grapple with poverty and an unemployment rate of more than 90 percent.

Mugabe was born in 1924 to a Malawian father and a Shona mother in Southern Rhodesia now Zimbabwe.

Mugabe became a teacher and went to teach in Zambia and Ghana from 1955 to 1960.

While teaching in Ghana he met Sally Hayfron. Sally was a teacher too.

During his stay in Ghana, he was influenced and particularly inspired by Ghana’s then Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah and how he led the country into independence. This experience would come in handy when Mugabe returned to his homeland to introduce his fiancée to his family. The country he left had changed and whites dominated.

This did not settle well with Mugabe.

Only a few weeks back home, he was elected secretary of the National Democratic Party.

But in 1963, Mugabe, alongside others founded Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) party. The party pledged to use any means including violence to achieve independence.

Robert Mugabe started speaking out and he publicly organized protests against British rule of Rhodesia. In 1963 he was arrested and sent to prison. He spent 11 years in prison as a political prisoner under Ian Smith’s Rhodesian government.

Being arrested and sent to prison didn’t stop him from trying to liberate Rhodesia. While in prison Robert Mugabe launch guerrilla operations toward freeing Rhodesia from British rule, he used secret communications to launch guerrilla operations against the British.

After being released from prison Mugabe assembled a troop of guerrilla fighters to liberate the country from British rule. Mugabe and his guerrilla fighters kept fighting the British until the 1970’s.

He was one of the key negotiators in the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement which led to the creation of a fully democratic Zimbabwe.

By 1980 Rhodesia was liberated from British rule and he was elected prime minister and later president.

His wife Sally Hayfron was much loved by the citizens and many argue that since she was Mugabe’s closest friend and most trusted adviser, the country was able to remain in good shape up until 1992 when she died.

Robert Mugabe tainted his legacy by needlessly hanging unto power for 37 years – and then trying to have his second wife, Grace Mugabe succeed him – which triggered the events that led to hiks ouster, but he’s loved today by millions in Zimbabwe for his role in liberating their country from British colonial rule.

The new President Emmerson Mnangagwa has reffered to Mugabe as ‘father of the nation’.

Robert Mugabe, for his part, seems to have cut the mother of all deals. Not only will the 93-year-old get a reported $10 million golden parachute to mark the end of his 37-year tenure (a $5 million lump sum up front and the remaining $5 million in tranches) but the government will continue to pay his $150,000 salary and his medical care, according to several media reports. He will be allowed to remain in “Blue Roof,” his 25-bedroom home in Harare, will continue to receive security protection and has been guaranteed that his private properties will remain his. His domestic staff and foreign travel will be paid for by the government, according to media reports.

EARLIER : Zimbabwe Grants Robert Mugabe, Grace Mugabe Immunity From Prosecution – Former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace Mugabe have reportedly been granted immunity from prosecution, local media reports referencing an official in the ruling ZANU-PF party. Mugabe has been negotiating terms of his retirement with Zimbabwean generals and political leaders who forced him to step down Tuesday after 37 years in power.

Ziyambi Ziyambi, a Zanu-PF MP and former minister, said both had been guaranteed immunity from prosecution and other unspecified protections.

“There has been an agreement. They are elder statesmen and will be respected and given their dues. He was our president and he agreed to resign, so he will enjoy the benefits of being an ex-president and his wife too. He is our icon,” Ziyambi said.

The military took over state institutions after Mugabe, who is 93, fired vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa on November 5 and suggested he would appoint his much younger wife to the post.

Military authorities also assured Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace Mugabe their safety will be protected in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe had told negotiators he wanted to die in Zimbabwe and had no plans to live in exile.

Simon Khaya Moyo, a spokesman for the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, said though Mugabe is no longer in power, he is regarded as the “hero” of the country’s independence.

“There aren’t any plans for former President Robert Mugabe; he’s free to stay in Zimbabwe and he won’t face prosecution,” the spokesman said, adding neither he nor his family are regarded as enemies of the state.

Col. Overson Mugwisi, a spokesman for the Zimbabwean Defense Forces, confirmed a deal was reached where Mugabe and his wife Grace will be granted immunity and a guarantee of safety.

The couple will be allowed to stay in the country.

Mugabe will receive a retirement package that includes a pension, housing, holiday and transport allowance, health insurance, limited air travel and security.

Human rights groups have accused Mugabe of rigging elections, allowing large-scale corruption and being responsible for the torture and killing of thousands of political opponents during his long rule.

Mnangagwa returned to Zimbabwe Wednesday after spending about two weeks in exile. The speaker of parliament says Mnangagwa will be sworn in as the country’s new president on Friday.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has urged Zimbabwe’s new leaders to ensure the country holds free and fair elections. “The people of Zimbabwe must choose their own leaders,” he said Tuesday.

Zimbabweans have expressed concerns about Mnangagwa, who is known as “The Crocodile” and was a close ally of Mugabe for decades. They are concerned he will run Zimbabwe in the same ruthless fashion as his predecessor.

John Campbell, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said because Mnangagwa played such a key role in Mugabe’s administration, he does not anticipate a dramatic change in the style of governance in the short term.

“Nevertheless, the fact that there has been a coup, the fact that Mugabe has resigned, opens the range of possibilities.” Campbell said. “Whether or not the Zimbabwean people will take advantage of that it is too soon to tell.”

EARLIER: Emmerson Mnangagwa Makes 1st Speech As Zimbabwe President-Elect – 75-year-old Emmerson Mnangagwa, – who will be sworn in as president on Friday – has said in his first speech since Mugabe resigned that Zimbabwe is entering a new era of democracy. Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose sacking as vice president earlier in November triggered a military takeover, flew back to Zimbabwe on Wednesday, a day after longtime President Robert Mugabe resigned amidst impeachment proceedings. Mnangagwa had fled to South Africa after his dismissal, citing threats to his life.

“Today, we are witnessing the beginning of a new and unfolding democracy,” Mnangagwa told thousands of jubilant supporters at the headquarters of the ruling ZANU-PF party in the capital, Harare.

“We want to grow our economy, we want jobs,” he added.

“All patriotic Zimbabweans (should) come together, work together.”

Zimbabweans call Emmerson Mnangagwa ‘the crocodile’ as he has been Robert Mugabe’s brutal chief enforcer for the past 36 years and the most feared man in the country.

EARLIER: Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe Resigns Halting Impeachment Hearing – Zimbabwe parliament speaker Jacob Mudenda has said that President Robert Mugabe has resigned. A letter from Mr Mugabe said that the decision was voluntary and that he had made it to allow a smooth transfer of power, the Reuters news agency reports. The letter was delivered to the Speaker as per the Constitution.

The surprise announcement halted an impeachment hearing that had begun against him to remove him from office. The speaker of Zimbabwe’s parliament, Jacob Mudenda, suspended the impeachment debate as wild celebrations broke out in parliament.

Lawmakers roared in jubilation and people have begun celebrating in the streets.

Jacob Mudenda, the speaker of Zimbabwe’s parliament, says a new leader will be in office by the end of Wednesday.

Jacob Mudenda said he was dealing with legal issues to ensure that the vacuum left by President Robert Mugabe’s resignation was filled.

The letter did not mention who would take over from Mr Mugabe, who has been in power since independence in 1980.

The constitution says it should be the current vice-president, Phelekezela Mphoko, a supporter of Grace Mugabe, Mr Mugabe’s wife.

Mr Mugabe had previously refused to resign despite last week’s military takeover and days of protests.

Mugabe was Zimbabwe’s first and only leader, having been in power since the country gained its independence from the U.K. in 1980, but lately he has been under exceptional pressure to end his 37-year tenure in power.

What triggered the moves to oust him was his dismissal of Emmerson Mnangagwa as vice-president two weeks ago.

That decision was seen by many as clearing the way for Mr Mugabe’s wife, Grace, to succeed her husband as leader. It riled the military leadership, who stepped in and put Mr Mugabe under house arrest.

Now under house arrest by the military, which seized power last week in what it described as a “bloodless correction,” Mugabe has also heard calls for his resignation from his own ruling ZANU-PF party and demonstrators in the streets. Just days after tens of thousands gathered to demand that he step down in the capital, Harare, Reuters reports another sizable protest collected outside the parliament building in the city Tuesday.

The recently ousted vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, called on Mugabe to “accept the will of the people” and resign. Mnangagwa is viewed by many as Mugabe’s likely successor.

“Parliament is the ultimate expression of the will of the people outside an election and in my view is expressing national sentiment by implementing the impeachment,” Mnangagwa said in a statement from an undisclosed location Tuesday, according to The Guardian. Mnangagwa, who said he had heard there were plans to “eliminate” him after his ouster, added that he “would not return home now until I am satisfied of my personal security, because of the manner and treatment given to me upon being fired.”

The tumult Tuesday follows days of uncertainty surrounding Mugabe, who was displaced from power by the military in an attempt to reclaim the country from the “criminals around [Mugabe] who are committing crimes” — though, as it soon became clear, the military intended Mugabe to step down, too.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said Mr Mugabe’s resignation “provides Zimbabwe with an opportunity to forge a new path free of the oppression that characterised his rule”.

She said that former colonial power Britain, “as Zimbabwe’s oldest friend”, will do all it can to support free and fair elections and the rebuilding of the Zimbabwean economy.

About Robert Gabriel Mugabe

Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born on February 21, 1924, in Kutama, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

He founded ZANU in 1963 as a resistance movement against British colonial rule.

In 1964 he was Imprisoned by Rhodesian government.

In 1980, when British rule ended, Mugabe became prime minister of the new Republic of Zimbabwe.

In 1987, he was elected president of Zimbabwe.

In 1996 he marries Grace Marufu – plucked from his secretarial pool.

In 2008 he comes second in first round of elections to Morgan Tsvangirai who pulls out of run-off amid nationwide attacks on his supporters

In 2009 amid economic collapse, swears in Mr Tsvangirai as prime minister, who serves in uneasy government of national unity for four years.

After sharing power with Morgan Tsvangirai from 2008 to 2013, Mugabe again resumed control of the country, until efforts to oust him from power were launched in late 2017.

In 2017 he sacks long-time ally Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, paving the way for his wife Grace to succeed him. Army intervenes and forces him to step down

Mugabe’s father was a carpenter. He went to work at a Jesuit mission in South Africa when Mugabe was just a boy, and mysteriously never came home. Mugabe’s mother, a teacher, was left to bring up Mugabe and his three siblings on her own.

As a child, Mugabe helped out by tending the family’s cows and making money through odd jobs. Mugabe was fortunate enough to receive a good education. He attended school at the local Jesuit mission under the supervision of school director Father O’Hea. A powerful influence on the boy, O’Hea taught Mugabe that all people should be treated equally and educated to the fulfillment of their abilities.

EARLIER: Sacked Robert Mugabe Does Not Resign Presidency As Impeachment Looms – Despite being sacked as party leader and with a possible impeachment looming, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Sunday – a televised address – refused to step down from his post despite calls from his own party to resign. Mugabe rather suggested he would preside over the party’s congress next month. The party responded by saying it gave Mugabe “every chance to have a dignified exit.”

Members of the political party ZANU-PF on Sunday expelled Mugabe as their leader and anointed Emmerson Mnangagwa the new party leader. The party issued an ultimatum that Mugabe would be impeached as president if he did not step down by mid-day Monday.

“The congress is due in a few weeks from now. I will preside over its processes, which must not be possessed by any acts calculated to undermine it or compromise the outcomes in the eyes of the public,” Mugabe outlined.

The president said the “failures of the past” may have triggered anger “in some quarters”. He said this was “quite understandable.”

The chairman of the Zimbabwe War Veterans Association, Chris Mutsvangwa, who led the campaign to oust the world’s oldest head of state, said Mugabe, 93, is “deaf and blind” to the desires of the people. He added that plans to impeach Mugabe would go ahead as planned.

The leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, echoed the sentiments, saying he was “baffled” by the address.

“I am baffled. It’s not just me, it’s the whole nation. He’s playing a game. He has let the whole nation down,” Tsvangirai told reporters.

Zimbabwe ruling party’s chief whip said after the address that Mugabe’s impeachment will go ahead until ‘advised otherwise’

Mugabe has led Zimbabwe for 37 years, but his time as president appears to be coming to an end.

A military coup placed Mugabe, 93, under house arrest last week after he fired Mnangagwa as vice president and indicated he would transfer power to his wife, Grace.

“Whatever the pros and cons of how (the army) went about their operation, I, as commander-in-chief, do acknowledge their concerns,” Mugabe said Sunday in the televised address.

Hundreds of thousands of people poured into the streets of Harare, Zimbabwe, on Saturday to celebrate Mugabe’s apparent ouster.

EARLIER: Zimbabwe’s Ruling Zanu-PF Replaces Robert Mugabe With Axed VP Mnangagwa As Party Leader – Zimbabwe ruling party, ZANU-PF, has sacked Robert Mugabe as party leader and appointed former vice-president Mnangagwa in his place. The party’s central committee met in the capital Harare on Sunday. President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace was also expelled from Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party. Impeaching the president is the next step when Parliament resumes Tuesday, and lawmakers will “definitely” put the process in motion, the main opposition’s parliamentary chief whip reportedly said.

Sunday’s meeting was reportedly been convened to remove President Robert Mugabe – Zimbabwe’s ruler of the last 37-year – as its leader.

The meeting was also expected to reinstate the axed vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Former vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is expected to lead a new government after the Central Committee made him its nominee to take over as the country’s president when Mugabe goes. Without the military’s intervention, the first lady likely would have replaced Mnangagwa as vice president and been in a position to succeed her husband.

The Central Committee also expelled several high-level members close to the first lady, including minister of higher education Jonathan Moyo, finance minister Ignatious Chombo, Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao, local government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, foreign affairs minister Walter Mzembi and several others.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe later met military chiefs who have put him under house arrest on Sunday for a second round of negotiations to encourage him to stand down after 37 years in power.

In photos posted on the website of state-owned media, Mugabe was shown in a dark suit and tie and standing behind a wooden desk at State House as he shook hands with a procession of generals and the chief of police.

The ruling ZANU-PF party had earlier on Sunday dismissed the president and his wife from their party posts at a special meeting called to decide his fate.

They are expected to make a further attempt to persuade him to resign. Mediation was led by Catholic priest Fidelis Mukonori state TV said.

Mugabe’s talks with army commander Constantino Chiwenga were the second round of negotiations on an exit as the military tries to avoid accusations of a coup.

Zimbabwean officials have not revealed details of the talks, but the military appears to favor a voluntary resignation by Mugabe to maintain a veneer of legality in the political transition.

In a statement the Zanu-PF Youth League condemned Mr Mugabe’s allies for “looting and plundering” and his wife Grace for “vulgar, cunning and unruly behaviour”, and called on him to stand down and to “rest as an elder statesman”.

Nine of 10 Zanu-PF party chapters say Mr Mugabe should step down and their decision is likely to be endorsed at Sunday’s meeting of the party’s top body, the central committee.

Thousands marched through the streets of Harare in support of the military who took over government following the sacking of vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Following the peaceful protest in Harare, Zimbabweans said they are satisfied they have sent a clear message to Mugabe and his wife Grace to leave the highest office of the land.

Zimbabweans say they are ready for a new president.

Zimbabweans say want the 18th of November declared national independence day because it’s the day they united against Mugabe’s regime.

Soldiers seized the headquarters of Zimbabwe’s national broadcaster ZBC on Wednesday.

An army official, Maj Gen Sibusiso Moyo, then read out a statement on national television, assuring the nation that President Mugabe and his family were safe.

The military was only targeting what he called “criminals” around the president, he said, denying that there had been a coup.

On Friday, Mr Mugabe made his first public appearance since being put under house arrest, speaking at a university.

EARLIER : Zimbabwe Army Detains Mugabes, Controls Capital, StateBroadcaster, But Says ‘Not A Coup’ – Armed soldiers in armored personnel carriers have stationed themselves at key points in Harare. Zimbabwe’s army has taken President Robert Mugabe and his wife into custody, is in control of the capital, Harare, has taken over government offices and is patrolling the capital’s streets – but says it is ‘not a coup’. The military has also taken over the state broadcaster. Armed soldiers in armored personnel carriers have stationed themselves at key points in Harare.

In an address to the nation after taking control of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Major General Sibusiso Moyo said early Wednesday the military is targeting “criminals” around Mugabe, and sought to reassure the country that order will be restored.

Mugabe and his wife is in the custody of the military. “Their security is guaranteed,” Moyo said.

“We wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover,” he said. “We are only targeting criminals around (Mugabe) who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice.”

Moyo added “as soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.” The army spokesman called on churches to pray for the nation. He urged other security forces to “cooperate for the good of our country,” warning that “any provocation will be met with an appropriate response.”

All troops were ordered to return to barracks immediately, with all leave canceled, said Moyo. The broadcast was sent out from the ZBC headquarters in Pocket’s Hill near Harare’s Borrowdale suburb.

The night’s action triggered speculation of a coup, but the military’s supporters praised it as a “bloodless correction.” South Africa’s president, Zuma said he spoke with 93-year-old Mugabe – who has been in power since Zimbabwe’s independence from white minority rule in 1980. Zuma said Mugabe was “fine” but confined to his home.

The developments followed Mugabe’s firing of his deputy, which had appeared to position the first lady, Grace Mugabe, to replace Emmerson Mnangagwa as one of the country’s two vice presidents at a party conference next month.

It was not clear Wednesday where Mnangagwa was, though he fled the country last week citing threats to him and his family.

The U.S. Embassy closed to the public Wednesday and encouraged citizens to shelter in place, citing “the ongoing political uncertainty through the night.” The British Embassy issued a similar warning, citing “reports of unusual military activity.”

Leave a Reply