"SECOND INDEPENDENCE"

Zimbabweans are celebrating Robert Mugabe’s fall, as he tries to cling to power

Quartz africa
Quartz africa

Thousands of Zimbabweans demonstrated against president Robert Mugabe today (Nov. 18), showcasing a freedom they’ve not enjoyed in years. Protestors marched from Harare’s townships and suburbs toward Mugabe’s home to deliver their message in person: It is it time to go.

Demonstrators gathered in Zimbabwe’s second largest city of Bulawayo and in South Africa, marching to the embassy in Pretoria and the consulate in Cape Town. Military veterans, civic organizations, and a coalition of opposition parties organized the marches.

People attempt to inch their way forward on the road to State House in Harare, Saturday, Nov. 18 2017. Earlier euphoric crowds of several thousand people gathered in Zimbabwe's capital to demand the departure of President Robert Mugabe after nearly four decades in power. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Tens of thousands marched. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
An army armored personnel carrier drives slowly through the gathered crowd of thousands demanding President Robert Mugabe stand down, on the road leading to State House in Harare, Zimbabwe Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. In a euphoric gathering that just days ago would have drawn a police crackdown, crowds marched through Zimbabwe's capital on Saturday to demand the departure of President Robert Mugabe, one of Africa's last remaining liberation leaders, after nearly four decades in power. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Making way. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
A man carries a poster calling for Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to step down as Zimbabweans take to the streets in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 18, 2017. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo - RC1CD0237E10
Emboldened. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

The euphoria of the protests was reminiscent of Tahrir Square in Egypt, and some called it a “second independence.” Like Egypt in 2011, the military is being welcomed as a benevolent force that has rid the country of a tyrant. Civilians congratulated soldiers, celebrating them for turning on Mugabe.

Protesters calling for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to step down greet a soldier in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 18, 2017. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo - RC12B9BD0200
“Thank you.” (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)
Protesters calling for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to step down take to the streets in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 18, 2017. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo - RC12E8546CF0
Loving the army. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

“Let us now go and deliver the message that grandfather Mugabe and his typist-cum-wife should go home,” said Victor Matemadanda, secretary-general of Zimbabwe’s War Veterans Association as he led a crowd toward Mugabe’s residence. The army prevented the crowds from reaching Mugabe’s private home.

Protesters calling for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to step down march in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 18, 2017. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo - RC19A64B9400
“Goodbye.” (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)
Protesters calling for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to step down march in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 18, 2017. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES - RC1160A19EC0
Standing up to Grace Mugabe. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

Meanwhile Mugabe’s nephew says the president will not go without a fight. In hiding in Johannesburg, Patrick Zhuwao told Reuters that his uncle and the first lady were “ready to die for what is correct.”

Mugabe made his first public appearance on Friday, two days after being placed under house arrest by the military takeover. While he has not formally stepped down, his departure is now widely viewed as an inevitability. If he does not leave voluntarily after negotiations with the military and southern African diplomats, some sources say he will be impeached by Tuesday.

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