HARARE, Zimbabwe — Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans gathered in the capital on Saturday, hooting, whistling and hugging soldiers as they called for President Robert Mugabe to give up power, days following the military placed him beneath house arrest.
In scenes maybe unthinkable only weeks ago, individuals marched side by side with members of the military — who rode in armed tanks — and the protesters hailed the army as setting them free from Mr. Mugabe’s 37-year autocratic rule.
“Mugabe must go, and his goons need to leave. We have been victimized by Mugabe for as well extended,” mentioned Nigel Mukwena, a 24-year-old student of political science at the University of Zimbabwe.
Other individuals took selfies of the military at the rally, which converged on Zimbabwe Grounds, recognized as the site of addresses by Mr. Mugabe and other icons of the nation’s liberation. The scenes, and the celebratory air, had been a seminal shift for the country’s 93-year-old leader — Africa’s oldest.
Brezhnev Malaba, assistant editor of The Zimbabwe Independent newspaper, tweeted in the early hours of the march: “There are decades in which nothing takes place and then, abruptly, there are days in which entire decades occur. Zimbabwe is at that moment. Astonishing scenes right here in Harare.”
For some Africans, Mr. Mugabe remains a nationalist hero, a symbol of the struggle to throw off the legacy of colonial rule. But he was also reviled as a dictator who resorted to violence to retain energy and ran a as soon as-robust economy into the ground.
The military placed Mr. Mugabe below residence arrest on Wednesday, effectively ending his long rule, but it permitted him to appear in public on Friday for a university graduation. The military sought to cast the action as an try to rid the president of the “criminals” in his government who have inflicted financial harm on the country.
The president’s wife, Grace Mugabe, has not been observed in public given that Wednesday. Her current aspirations to succeed her husband — and her and their sons’ lavish lifestyles — appear to have been a trigger for his downfall.
On Friday evening, a majority of the leaders of Mr. Mugabe’s governing ZANU-PF party, which he had controlled with an iron grip since independence in 1980, advisable his expulsion, according to ZBC, the state broadcaster.
“Many of us had watched with pain as the party and government had been being decreased to the private house of a handful of infiltrators with traitorous histories and questionable commitment to the folks of Zimbabwe,” the celebration leaders stated in a resolution. “Clearly, the nation was going down the wrong path.”
A nephew of Mr. Mugabe’s, Patrick Zhuwao, told Reuters on Saturday that the president and his wife were “ready to die for what is correct” and had no intention of stepping down. Speaking from South Africa, Mr. Zhuwao was quoted as saying that Mr. Mugabe had hardly slept given that the military seized power, but that his well being was otherwise “good.”
On Saturday morning, Zimbabweans — some chanting, “Enough is adequate!” and carrying signs emblazoned with “Mugabe must go” — marched alongside soldiers in tanks mounted with machine guns.
For a lot of Zimbabweans, the atmosphere was electric and filled with hope. Marchers swarmed to the grounds, and drivers honked their horns. At one particular point, military aircraft streaked above the crowds. Later, demonstrators marched toward Mr. Mugabe’s residence in the exclusive Borrowdale suburb of Harare, where he was believed to be held in military custody.
“Soldiers are getting feted as heroes on the streets of Harare,” Mr. Malaba, the editor, stated on Twitter. “Euphoric scenes. People are standing subsequent to army tanks and taking selfies. I’ve seen chaps excitedly polishing soldiers’ boots in a gesture of gratitude. This is unprecedented. Historic!”
Benita Mudondo, 57, came to the rally from the Nyanga District, far more than 180 miles to the east, close to the border with Mozambique. “Surely Zimbabwe, our nation, is back — the one nation we fought for,” she mentioned. “We had given up, but had grow to be worried about the future of our youngsters and grandchildren.”
Her husband, Ernst Mudondo, 67, a war veteran, stated, “Our joy only starts right now, and we are so pleased.”
Their daughter, Michelle Mudondo, 17, added: “We want to see our nation on a path back to recovery I appear forward to a stable government with a stable economy without having shortages of money.”
Financial chance was cited by other people. “I am here simply because I want a job, and Mugabe couldn’t deliver,” said Simbarashe Sakuona, 23, who said he had a degree in marketing from Midlands State University. “We were witnessing a bedroom coup as Grace now called the shots. Grace cannot be a leader.”
The prospect that the end of Mr. Mugabe’s era could unleash a crisis on the African continent spurred the South African president, Jacob Zuma, to send envoys to attempt to defuse the predicament.
Mr. Zuma said on Saturday that his nation was committed to supporting “the folks of Zimbabwe,” according to Reuters. He added that he was cautiously optimistic that the scenario could be resolved amicably.
Now, Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, the vice president of Zimbabwe until he was fired lately, is in line to turn out to be the country’s new leader. Observers say he shares some of Mr. Mugabe’s traits, like a hunger for energy and a taste for repression. His nickname: the “crocodile.”
Published at Sun, 19 Nov 2017 01:01:28 +0000