Thirty-seven years ago, Robert Mugabe was feted as a titan who had won Africa’s last great war against colonialism.
On Tuesday, in the twilight of his life, Mugabe resigned, loathed by millions of his citizens for a rule tarnished by despotism, cronyism, corruption and economic ruin.
Deserted by the forces that propped up his power for decades, Mugabe had faced the humiliation of impeachment proceedings launched by ZANU-PF, the party he had forged into a tool of unquestioning loyalty.
In a bombshell letter read to parliament by the speaker, Jacob Mudenda, the 93-year-old said: “I Robert Gabriel Mugabe in terms of section 96 of the constitution of Zimbabwe hereby formally tender my resignation … with immediate effect.” (AFP)
Here’s a look back at Mugabe, the only ruler Zimbabwe has known in its 37 years of independence.
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Leaders of African National Congress of Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) Robert Mugabe, left, and Joshua Nkomo were in cheerful mood at a joint press conference they gave in Dar Ea Salaam, Tanzania, on Oct. 9, 1976. (Photo: AP)
Robert Mugabe, leader of the ZANU wing of Rhodesia’s Patriotic Front, during an election rally in February 1980. (Photo: Louise Gubb/AP)
Britain’s Prince Charles shares a word with Zimbabwean Prime Minister Robert Mugabe, while British Governor Christopher Soames and the Rhodesian cabinet look on, in Salisbury (now Harare), Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), on April 16, 1980. (Photo: AP)
Robert Mugabe at Zimbabwe’s Independence Day in Salisbury on April 16, 1980. (Photo: Jean-Claude Francolon/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
President Jimmy Carter meets with Robert Mugabe, prime minister of the newly independent Zimbabwe, Aug. 27, 1980. (Photo: Corbis via Getty Images)
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, accompanied by her husband, arrives at Harare International Airport for a two-day visit to Zimbabwe on March 29, 1981. Thatcher with her husband and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe applauded the traditional dancers who greeted them as they stepped off their plane. (Photo: Peter Winterbach/AP)
Mugabe at the Elysee Palace in Paris in May 1982. (Photo: Laurent Maous/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Mugabe raises his hand to acknowledge supporters as he attended an election rally near Harare in July 1985. His ZANU party won a landslide victory in the country’s first election since independence. (Photo: AP)
Mugabe waits for guests with his wife, Sally, at the National Sports Centre in Harare to celebrate the 10th anniversary of independence from Britain, April 18, 1990. (Photo: AP)
President Bill Clinton gestures while talking to Mugabe in the colonnades of the White House in 1995, after an Oval Office meeting. (Photo: Greg Gibson/AP)
Mugabe and his new wife, Grace, leave the Kutama Catholic Church, Aug. 17, 1996, after exchanging their wedding vows. The couple were traditionally married shortly after the death of Mugabe’s first wife, Sally. The ceremony was attended by 6,000 invited guests. (Photo: Howard Burditt/Reuters)
Mugabe gives a speech concerning land resettlement during the Third National People’s Conference at Mary Mount Teachers’ College in Mutare, Zimbabwe, in 1997. (Photo: C. Collingridge/AP)
Mugabe holds hands with his South African counterpart, Nelson Mandela, greeting him on his arrival in the country in 1998. Mandela was in Zimbabwe to address the World Council of Churches. (Photo: Howard Burditt/Reuters)
Mugabe kisses his wife, Grace, at his 80th birthday party in his home area of Zvimba, Feb. 21, 2004. Mugabe celebrated his 80th birthday one day after indicating that he would retire within five years amid a deepening political and economic crisis. (Photo: Howard Burditt/Reuters)
Mugabe inspects troops at the opening of Parliament in 2000. The fifth Parliament since independence in 1980 saw the largest opposition to Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party, with the Movement for Democratic Change holding 57 seats in the 150-seat chamber. (Photo: Howard Burditt/Reuters)
Mugabe greets the crowd upon arrival at a rally in Gutu, Zimbabwe, in 2005. (Photo: AP)
Mugabe and his wife, Grace, react during a visit to a hospital in Harare in 2008. (Photo: AP)
Mugabe is interviewed at United Nations headquarters during the 63rd session of the U.N. General Assembly in 2008. (Photo: Seth Wenig/AP)
Mugabe addresses people at an event during his party’s 16th Annual Peoples Conference in Masvingo, Zimbabwe, in December 2016. (Photo: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP)
Mugabe listens to his wife, Grace, at a rally of his ruling ZANU-PF party in Harare, Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters)
An election poster from the 2008 ZANU-PF election campaign on the wall of a dilapidated building in the Mbara suburb of Harare, Nov. 17, 2017. (Photo: AP)
Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, meets with Defence Forces Generals in Harare at State House , Sunday, Nov, 19, 2017. Members of the ZANU PF Central committee fired Mugabe as chief and replaced him with dismissed deputy President, Emmerson Mnangagwa on Sunday. (Photo: AP)
Mugabe sits for formal photographs with university officials after presiding over a graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe Open University, Nov. 17, 2017. Mugabe made his first public appearance since the military put him under house arrest earlier that week. (Photo: Ben Curtis/AP)