Popular sentiment in Zimbabwe
When Mugabe set his face to the wall and refused to resign, the Team Mnangagwa decided to follow a different route to the same goal. They set about persuading the Zanu PF Party to expel Mugabe and for the Members of Parliament to impeach him next week and thereby kick him into touch. At the same time, they recognised that they had to shield the process from regional intervention by the SADC States and South Africa.
The first step in the latter exercise was the decision to call for demonstrations in Zimbabwe to show that the people of this country overwhelmingly support the military intervention and the removal of this stubborn old man from the seat of Government. The call went out on Thursday and Friday and various organisations responded by organising rallies and marches in the different urban areas of the country.
In Harare I decided to visit all the sites to assess the mood and the response. Well what a day! By midday an estimated one million people had gathered at the Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfields which has such symbolic significance as the seat of African Nationalism in the Rhodesian era and the site where Robert Mugabe made his first speech after taking power in 1980. It was an extraordinary sight with tens of thousands on roads jammed with traffic in every direction.
In the City itself crowds formed everywhere. The atmosphere was relaxed and cheerful. Soldiers on duty were hugged, posed for selfies and cheered at every turn. One group even insisted on cleaning their boots!! Flags were everywhere. No police – gone were the feared riot police, no tear gas, no threats, no road blocks. No windows were broken, no cars burnt, no stones thrown.
Even the weather played along. It was dry, cool and overcast, perfect weather for the day and it was like that all over the country. It remained like that right into the night and I think it was a late night for many. It was the same in all Cities, for once this country was at one and everyone had the same message – Mugabe must go, and SADC and South Africa must let us do this thing our own way.
What a day. I do not think many will forget that day and for sure now, the Mugabe era is a closed book and a new day is dawning for our long-suffering people. I was contacted this morning (Sunday) to say Parliament is sitting on Tuesday. You all know what that means.
Harare, 19th November 2017