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Various organisations set to march in solidarity with Zim army

The army arrested several ministers and Zanu-PF officials this week following the sacking of vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe. Picture: AFP

HARARE - Various organisations are set to march today in solidarity with the army following Monday’s military take over which saw President Robert Mugabe confined to his home.

The army arrested several ministers and Zanu-PF officials this week following the sacking of vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Civil rights organisations churches and ordinary citizens are today expected to take to the streets in a peaceful demonstration.

The social justice movement Tajamuka’s Ostalos Sibiza says one of their demands is for President Mugabe to be removed from office.

“Robert Mugabe must go, that’s a demand beyond any negotiation. He must leave office.”

He says the march is also a peaceful endorsement of the army’s actions.

“That march is going to be characterised by roses and the military and its members is going to be there because there’s a co-existence between the military and the Zimbabwean people at this very moment in time.”

The Southern African Development Community leaders meeting in Botswana are expected to make recommendations on the current state but Sibiza says their intervention at this point is unwelcome.

YOUNG PEOPLE CALL FOR CHANGE

Young people say they see the apparent impending regime change in Zimbabwe as an opportunity to turn the economy around.

The neighbouring country’s military took over the government on Monday, confining Mugabe to house arrest and arresting some of his ministers.

Following the country’s economic meltdown and chronic cash shortage, Zimbabwe introduced bond notes worth a dollar each to ease the crisis.

The Zimbabwean National Students Union’s Treasure Basopo says young people have endorsed the military takeover.

“We’re driven by the passion to see the populace becoming better off. So as students we endorse the decision, we’re happy with it simply because they are talking of trying to remove him so that the economy can perform better.”

Coalition of Unemployed Graduates Nqobizitha Mlambo says talks of any future cannot happen without the involvement of the youth.

“So this is now the platform on how we want to charter our country going forward through a roadmap. How do we industrialise, so they can’t talk about that without the necessary ways of young people.”

It’s still unclear how far the talks between the president and the army have advanced but Zimbabweans seem to have one explicit demand: Mugabe must go.

ZANU-PF STANDS FIRM

Mugabe, at Zimbabwe’s helm since independence from Britain in 1980, faces the starkest challenge ever to his rule after the army seized power on Wednesday, saying it was targeting “criminals” around the nonagenarian leader.

Zanu-PF called on Friday for Mugabe to resign, the main state newspaper The Herald reported, a clear sign that the aging leader’s authority has collapsed after the army takeover.

The newspaper said that Zanu-PF branches in all 10 provinces had met and had also called for Mugabe’s wife Grace, whose ambitions to succeed her husband triggered the political crisis, to resign from the party.

A senior member of Zanu-PF earlier told Reuters the party wanted their long-time president gone.

“If he becomes stubborn, we will arrange for him to be fired on Sunday,” the source said. “When that is done, it’s impeachment on Tuesday.”

The Herald reported that Zanu-PF would convene a special Central Committee meeting on Sunday to “realign the revolutionary party with current political developments”.

Pointedly, the military said it “fully supports” a “solidarity march” - apparently separate from the Zanu-PF event - in Harare on Saturday, part of an apparent groundswell of anti-Mugabe sentiment unleashed by the dramatic events of the past few days.

The army said it had been “approached by several private volunteer organisations seeking to freely move and express their desires” and they could do so if they were orderly and peaceful.

Harare has been calm as the coup has unfolded but the armed forces also said in a statement that “people have been warned against looting”.

The army appears to want Mugabe to go quietly and allow a transition to Mnangagwa.

A goal of the generals is to prevent Mugabe handing power to his wife, Grace, 41 years his junior, who appeared on the cusp of power after Mnangagwa was pushed out.

Mugabe, 93, who calls himself the grand old man of African politics, looks to be running out of options.

The army is camped on his doorstep. Grace Mugabe is under house arrest and her key political allies are in military custody.

All the main pillars of Mugabe’s rule have turned on him or have offered no support.

The police have shown no resistance, while Chris Mutsvangwa, the leader of Zimbabwe’s influential war veterans, said on Friday that Mugabe would not be allowed to resist the military and remain in power.

And Zanu-PF, which built a cult of personality around its leader, has now deserted him.

Mugabe is revered by some as an elder statesman and independence leader but also reviled by many in Africa and abroad who accuse him of resorting to violence to retain power while running a once promising economy into the ground.

The economy collapsed after the seizure of white-owned farms in 2000. Unemployment is now running at nearly 90% and chronic shortages of hard currency have triggered inflation, with the prices of imports rising as much as 50% a month.

Additional reporting by Reuters

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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