Thousands march in support of military, demand Mugabe exit

A protester holds a street sign for Robert Mugabe way during a march currently underway in Harare
A protester holds a street sign for Robert Mugabe way during a march currently underway in Harare

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in several major cities and towns in Zimbabwe today demanding the country’s President Robert Mugabe leave office immediately, while heaping praise on the country’s military, which intervened and nipped Mugabe’s administrative powers on Monday.

The largest attendances are in the country’s capital Harare.

The demonstrations began at 09:00 in the morning at Robert Mugabe Square, a few meters from the headquarters of Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF.

Protestors just outside Zanu PFs headquarters in Harare. Mugabe’s banner advertising his youth interface rallies can be seen in the background. Picture Credit: Maynard Manyowa, Khuluma Afrika, 2017
Protestors just outside Zanu PFs headquarters in Harare. Mugabe’s banner advertising his youth interface rallies can be seen in the background. Picture Credit: Maynard Manyowa, Khuluma Afrika, 2017

The biggest crowds were gathered at the Zimbabwe grounds in Highfields, a suburb 10km away from the city center, were War Veterans had called for a meeting.

Minister of Cyber Security, Threat Detection and Mitigation Patrick Chinamasa addressed the crowd gathered at the stadium, and demanded that Grace Mugabe be investigated for her crimes, while her husband Robert should step down immediately.

Mugabe was denounced heavily at the gathering, with calls for his ousting growing louder and louder.

Symbolically, the demo was held just 500 meters from the home Mugabe grew up in.

Traffic built up for kilometers, forcing people to take the hour long walk to the grounds. After the meeting concluded, protestors were directed to march to Mugabe’s house.

In the city center, people sang and danced outside Zanu Pf’s headquarters in the morning. At State House, thousands gathered to demonstrated. By noon they had dispersed however.

Army personnel on the ground are having a tough job containing the protesters, while trying to direct traffic and avoid congestion.

The protests are however entirely peaceful. Several people are singing songs of praise to the soldiers, while asking to take pictures with them.

“These men are our heroes. These are our soldiers. We are liberated!”, one protestor shouted while offer the soldiers a hug.

One soldier we spoke to expressed shock at the level of support they are receiving from the people.

“People are coming offering us food, water, drinks and even money. But, they want pictures. I don’t know how many pictures i took” he said.

Rainbow Zimbabwe? Soldiers in conversation with Zimbabweans of European, Indian, and African descent. Protestors kept requesting selfies with the soldiers.
Rainbow Zimbabwe? Soldiers in conversation with Zimbabweans of European, Indian, and African descent. Protestors kept requesting selfies with the soldiers. Picture Credit – Maynard Manyowa 2017

The soldier added he had not seen this much love.

Protestors are holding placards requesting the fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa be reinstated, while others are praising the commander of the defence forces, General Constantino Chiwenga, and other money generals.

Other placards are praising the army, and thanking it for helping bring an end to what they call tyranny.

A few placards carried messages aimed at SADC and AU, demanding that they make Grace answer for assaulting a South African model first, before trying to meddle in Zimbabwe’s politics.

Rainbow Zimbabwe? Soldiers in conversation with Zimbabweans of European, Indian, and African descent. Protestors kept requesting selfies with the soldiers. Picture Credit - Maynard Manyowa 2017
A woman holds a placard asking for the reinstatement of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa. (Maynard Manyowa 2017)

Soldiers have however denied protestors access to march to state house after cordoning off the roads close to the area. The same roads lead to Mugabe’s private residence.

However, at the Zimbabwe grounds, calls to storm Mugabe’s residence are being maintained, even as the road remains blocked.

There is still some confusion about how the protestors, especially those in the city center must proceed, or will proceed.