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.
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.
“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.
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.