Mugabe resigns: What's next for Zimbabwe?

"For now we are happy, but it's guided optimism."
Zimbabweans celebrate after Robert Mugabe resigned as president Tuesday after 37 years in power. (Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images)
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After 37 years in power, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's dictatorship officially came to an end Tuesday.

The people of Zimbabwe took to the streets to celebrate his resignation, announced during an impeachment hearing that had begun against him.

The historic move ends a crisis that saw a military takeover that prevented Mugabe's wife, Grace — and her faction within the ruling ZANU-PF party — from taking over the country.

CBC's Europe correspondent Margaret Evans, who's in Harare, the country's capital, says the excitement over Mugabe's resignation is palpable.

"You can smell it, you can touch it. It is unbelievable," she tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

"People are looking each other in the eye, reaching out, hugging each other, just literally jumping up and down with happiness," she says.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (R) with his vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Feb. 27, 2016. (Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters)

'There's jubilance in the streets of Harare right now'

Obert Gutu, the spokesperson and lawyer for Zimbabwe's largest opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), says the resignation announcement was imminent and long overdue, as Mugabe grew increasingly unpopular within his own party and with the people of his country.

"There's jubilance in the streets of Harare right now. People blowing their car horns and dancing in the streets and scenes of sheer ecstasy."

However, despite the nationwide celebrations and strong sense of hope for the new era of Zimbabwe, uncertainty looms over the future of the country.

'There's jubilance in the streets of Harare right now. People blowing their car horns and dancing in the streets and scenes of sheer ecstasy,' says Obert Gutu, the spokesperson and lawyer for Zimbabwe's largest opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), (EPA-EFE)

The 'Crocodile'

The ZANU-PF party says former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa will succeed Mugabe, a decision that, according to Evans, has "led to a lot of concern on some levels."

He (Emmerson Mnangagwa) is the guy who basically managed the 'pillar of fear' here in various election campaigns.- Margaret Evans

Nicknamed the "Crocodile," Mnangagwa has been accused of atrocities in the 1980s that resulted in the deaths of thousands during his tenure as minister of security. 

"He is the guy who basically managed the 'pillar of fear' here in various election campaigns," Evans explains.

"People [are] saying, 'What are we doing, are we jumping from one dictator to another?' Others say Mugabe was so bad, people were so desperate for change that it doesn't matter who did it, and they're going to fight another battle another day," she says.

Zimbabweans celebrate after President Robert Mugabe resigns in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 21, 2017. (Mike Hutchings/Reuters)

The country's future

For now we are happy, but it's guided optimism.- Obert Gutu

According to Gutu, Mugabe was ruthless and ruled the country with an iron fist. He says Zimbabwe needs a complete and total democratization —  a stark contrast to the "intolerant dictatorship" that controlled the country for nearly four decades. He says this can start by setting conditions for a free and fair election, opening up the media and reforming economic policies.

"And more importantly, clamp down on corruption because corruption is just way, way out of control," he explains.

When it comes to Zimbabwe's future, Gutu says there is a need to be "cautiously optimistic" about Mugabe's successor because they are both "cut from the same cloth."

"For now we are happy, but it's guided optimism."

Harare erupts in jubilation as long-time president Robert Mugabe resigns 1:06

Listen to the full segment above.

​This segment was produced by The Current's Lara O'Brien and Ines Colabrese.