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Zim marchers fail to hold back disdain towards Mugabe and his wife

Zimbabweans did not hold back their punches, publicly displaying their disdain towards Mugabe and his wife Grace.

FILE: Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe with his wife Grace Mugabe raising their fists in a vehicle before meeting delegates during a Zimbabwe ruling party Zanu-PF youth rally at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera on 2 June 2017. Picture: AFP.

HARARE - Zimbabweans are satisfied they have sent a clear message to President Robert Mugabe and his wife grace to leave the highest office of the land.

Thousands marched through the streets of Harare in support of the military who took over government following the sacking vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mugabe’s 37-year rule has been effectively at an end since the army seized control on Wednesday, confining him to his residence, saying it wanted to target the “criminals” around him.

Zimbabweans say they are ready for a new president.

Zimbabweans did not hold back their punches, publicly displaying their disdain towards Mugabe and his wife grace.

Some held placards bearing the image of a sleeping Mugabe with the words: “Mugabe Must Rest Now” written on them.

Others directed their blows towards the first lady with posters that read: “Gucci Grace Must Go”

This protester says he believes Mugabe got the message.

“You around you my friend, this is a clear message. He knows and he won’t go back today.”

Zimbabweans say want the 18th of November declared national independence day because it’s the day they united against Mugabe’s regime.

[Watch] Zimbabweans take to the streets, call for Mugabe to go

ZANU-PF MEETING

Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party will meet on Sunday to dismiss Mugabe and reinstate Mnangagwa, two party sources told Reuters on Saturday.

The sources said a party central committee meeting scheduled for 10:30am would also dismiss 93-year-old Mugabe’s preferred successor, his wife Grace, from her role as head of the Zanu-PF Women’s League.

Shortly after the sources revealed the meeting, a motorcade left Mugabe’s official residence in the capital Harare to boos and jeers from onlookers, although a security said Mugabe was not inside.

Hundreds of thousands of people had flooded the streets of Harare singing, dancing and hugging soldiers in an outpouring of elation at Mugabe’s demise, while others marched towards his residence.

In scenes reminiscent of the downfall of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989, men, women and children ran alongside the armoured cars and the troops who stepped in this week to oust the only ruler Zimbabwe has known since independence in 1980.

Under house arrest in his lavish ‘Blue Roof’ compound, he has watched support from his Zanu-PF party, security services and people evaporate in less than three days.

Mugabe’s nephew, Patrick Zhuwao, told Reuters the elderly leader and his wife were “ready to die for what is correct” rather than step down in order to legitimise what he described as a coup.

Key players in Zimbabwe

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“TEARS OF JOY”

Speaking from a secret location in South Africa, Zhuwao said Mugabe had hardly slept since the military took over but his health was otherwise “good”.

On Harare’s streets, Zimbabweans spoke of a second liberation for the former British colony, alongside their dreams of political and economic change after two decades of deepening repression and hardship.

“These are tears of joy,” said Frank Mutsindikwa, 34, holding aloft the Zimbabwean flag. “I’ve been waiting all my life for this day. Free at last. We are free at last.”

Mugabe’s downfall is likely to send shockwaves across Africa, where a number of entrenched strongmen, from Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni to Democratic Republic of Congo’s Joseph Kabila, are facing mounting pressure to step aside.

The secretary-general of Zimbabwe’s War Veterans Association, Victor Matemadanda, called on those at an anti-Mugabe rally to march on Mugabe’s residence, and live television footage showed hundreds of protesters marching in that direction.

“Let us now go and deliver the message that grandfather Mugabe and his typist-cum-wife should go home,” Matemadanda told the crowd in the Harare township of Highfield.

The crowds in Harare have so far given a quasi-democratic veneer to the army’s intervention, backing its claims that it is merely effecting a constitutional transfer of power, which would help it avoid the diplomatic backlash and opprobrium that normally follows coups.

The military had been prompted to act by Mugabe’s decision to sack Mnangagwa, Grace Mugabe’s main rival to succeed her husband. The next presidential election is due next year.

Zimbabweans abroad were also awaiting the end of Mugabe’s rule. Hundreds living in Britain gathered outside the country’s embassy in central London calling on the leader to step aside.

“I am happy today because Bob Mugabe is about to go. He must go. At least if he goes, we’ll have a change of president after so many years of injustice,” said Florence, a 34-year-old who declined to give her last name.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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