Zimbabwe's former president Robert Mugabe attends a student graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe Open University on the outskirts of Harare earlier this month. Picture: Ben Curtis/AP

Harare  - Zimbabwe's new leadership has authorized a decision to designate former president Robert Mugabe's February 21 birthday a public holiday.

The decision was published in a government notice on Friday, the day of the inauguration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was fired by Mugabe as vice president on November 6 but returned to Zimbabwe after a military takeover.

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Most Zimbabweans were delighted when Mugabe resigned on November 21 after nearly four decades in power. While acknowledging past mistakes during Mugabe's rule, Mnangagwa described the former leader as a mentor and ruling party officials have continued to praise Mugabe's earlier role in the country's evolution.

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The campaign to make 93-year-old Mugabe's birthday a national holiday began during his rule. In August, the government announced the designation after months of lobbying by members of the ruling party's youth league.