Tens of thousands of people protested in Harare on Saturday urging President Robert Mugabe to step down in a show of solidarity among opposition and ruling party supporters and the Zimbabwe Defence Force that seized all state institutions and confined the president to his residence.
In a sign of the end of Mugabe’s rule, tens of thousands of Zimbabweans heeded a call by war veterans of the 1970s liberation struggle to flood the streets of Harare and march to State House in order to force President Mugabe to step down.
Senior Zanu PF officials, including former Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, leader of the National People’s Party Joice Mujuru, Movement for Democratic Change secretary general Douglas Mwonzora, Pastor Evan Mawarire of This Flag Campaign and several others called Mugabe to step down immediately.
Chinamasa told thousands of people that it’s time for Mugabe to go. “We are now in the dawn of a new era. We urge Mugabe to go”
Mwonzora made a similar call, urging the military to respect the country’s constitution.
“This is a Zimbabwean moment. We must forget our personal differences. We must forget our political differences. We must forget yesterday. We must remember tomorrow because we want to change our country.
“This country is not a dynasty. This country is not for one family. It’s for all of us. It’s not for one race … I was happy when the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces put at the forefront of their program the constitution of our country. We must respect our constitution.”
VOA Studio 7 talked to some of the people, including Nyari Miti, who were at the rally while they were outside President Mugabe’s official residence.
Another one, Getrude Chimange, said the demonstration was a message to SADC and other international organizations that Zimbabweans can solve their own problems. She pleaded with President Jacob Zuma of South Africa to let Zimbabweans decide their destiny, noting that President Mugabe is too old to remain the president of the country.
At the same time, all Zanu PF provinces have resolved to recall President Mugabe and reinstate all members that were suspended. Speaking at a meeting in Harare today, one of the senior party officials, Daniel Sigauke, said the Central Committee should reinstate suspended Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Alois Baloyi, a member of the party from Masvingo province, also said the party wants Mugabe to go.
He said ZANU PF was happy about the Zimbabwe Defence Force’s move to seize all state institutions and place Mugabe under house arrest.
Reacting to the march, Patrick Zhuwao, who is part of the Generation 40, which wanted First Lady Grace Mugabe to succeed the president, told VOA Studio 7 that the Zimbabwean leader will stay put.
The march ended with people embracing wholeheartedly members of the Zimbabwe National Army. The Zanu PF Central Committee is expected to meet on Sunday in Harare. It is expected to pass a vote of no confidence on Mr. Mugabe. The matter is also set to be tabled in parliament if the president does not step down voluntarily.