Nicholas Nyamaka, a 65-year-old taxi driver, said: “I used to think it would never come. It’s a dream come true. So finally the suffering is over.”
The state broadcaster interrupted its programming to report that Mr. Mugabe had resigned and that a new leader could be sworn in as early as Wednesday. Emmerson Mnangagwa, the vice president whom Mr. Mugabe abruptly fired last week, setting off an internal revolt, is widely expected to lead the country, at least until national elections scheduled for next year.
For nearly four decades, Mr. Mugabe ruled through a heavy mix of repression of his opponents and rewards for his allies. He oversaw the massacre of thousands of civilians in the 1980s and outmaneuvered rivals in his party and in the opposition. Even in his 90s and weakened by age, he kept potential successors at bay.
But he pushed too hard by trying to position his wife, Grace, 52, as his successor. Despite being a newcomer to politics who had no role in the nation’s liberation war, she made clear that she wanted to be president and ridiculed politicians who had been waiting decades to succeed her husband.
The chain of events leading to Mr. Mugabe’s downfall started on Nov. 6, when he fired Mr. Mnangagwa, clearing the way for Mrs. Mugabe to take over the presidency at some point. Mr. Mugabe then tried to arrest the nation’s top military commander a few days later.
After the military took Mr. Mugabe into custody, ZANU-PF expelled him as its leader on Sunday. But Mr. Mugabe stunned the nation that evening with a televised address in which he refused to step down as president. Pressure from within the country and from abroad had been building on Mr. Mugabe to resign, but observers had warned that the country might have to brace itself for lengthy impeachment proceedings.
The motion of impeachment introduced on Tuesday alleged, among other things, that Mr. Mugabe had violated the Constitution; that he had allowed his wife to usurp power; and that he was too old to fulfill his duties.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mr. Mnangagwa, whose firing led to the military intervention, broke his silence, urging the embattled leader to step down. “He should take heed of this clarion call by the people of Zimbabwe to resign so that the country can move forward and preserve his legacy,” Mr. Mnangagwa said.
Mr. Mnangagwa’s role as the likely successor to Mr. Mugabe has raised many concerns. He was accused of orchestrating the crackdown in the 1980s in which thousands of members of the Ndebele ethnic group were killed. He was also accused of being behind deadly violence in 2008 a bid to rig polls in favor of Mr. Mugabe, a claim he denies.
At least a semblance of legitimacy — especially for a government under Mr. Mnangagwa, who is known as the enforcer of some of Mr. Mugabe’s most ruthless policies — will be critical in gaining recognition from regional powers, Western governments and international lenders. Zimbabwe, which no longer has its own currency and perennially struggles to pay government workers, became a pariah in the West after the state-backed invasion of white-owned farms in the early 2000s.