The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Mancunians celebrate end of Mugabe’s reign

Protesters have declared it “Zimbabwe’s second independence” as the brutal dictator is forced to resign

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On the 21st of November, Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s only president since independence in 1980, stepped down after an eight-day military takeover of his office.

Mugabe is said to be one of the most ruthless leaders of modern times who, having led Zimbabwe to economic ruin, had become hugely unpopular.

Scenes of celebrations have emerged from the capital Harare in anticipation of a new chapter of democracy and economic prosperity.

On Saturday 18th November the demonstrations came to Manchester as many took to Piccadilly Gardens to celebrate the impeachment proceedings.

One demonstrator said, “We are happy they did it, that is why we are here”

Another expressed her hope for the LGBT community in light of the presidential change, stating “there is no recognition for our community… we want to be protected like any other heterosexual in Zimbabwe.

“We are not free, we cannot live openly there. We need a new government to protect each and every human being”

Mugabe’s successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has vowed to generate employment in Zimbabwe which has been estimated to be at around 90 per cent.

“We want to grow our economy, we want peace, we want jobs, jobs, jobs,” he announced to a cheering crowd in Harare.

However, some remain sceptical as to whether Mnangagwa will bring the radical change for which many are optimistic. Mnangagwa, nicknamed “the crocodile” for his political shrewdness, was a key member of Mugabe’s establishment. He acted as an aide throughout the dictatorship and architect of many of its brutal crackdowns on dissent.

After almost 40 years of fear, this may be the first time for many to speak openly and demonstrate in the streets. Banners carried through the capital declared the Zimbabwean people will no longer “sit in silence” and are “free at last”. These protests and the calls for international recognition to aid the shattered economy may make a return to dictatorship less likely.

While questions remain regarding Zimbabwe’s future under the new presidency, for now, the feeling is one of celebration.

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Photo: Hannah Murray