There had been calls for a “day of rage”, but the overwhelming mood of the hundreds of thousands who poured into the streets of Harare today was one of celebration at what they are convinced is deliverance at last from the rule of Robert Mugabe.
The course of Zimbabwe’s slow-motion coup has been difficult to chart, with Africa’s longest-serving head of state seemingly determined to cling on to power despite the military taking over and branches of his own ruling party passing motions of no confidence. But the vast turnout in the capital was a resounding popular vote marking what looks like a point of no return for the 93-year-old president.
Women and men, the young and elderly, sang, danced, chanted slogans and waved the national flag. They carried placards saying “Mugabe just go”, “Mugabe leave Zimbabwe now”, “People v Robert Mugabe”, “Red card for Mugabe”, and, at a place where they avidly follow English Premier League football, “Mugabe worse than Moyes”, evidently from a West Ham fan disgruntled by the new manager the club has appointed. And, perhaps inevitably, one saying “Wenger must go”.
“It’s like Independence Day and Christmas in one”, was among the phrases heard. Laughing as she savoured the words, 27-year-old Joyce Mangezi added: “I think to myself that this man has been president for 10 years longer than I have been alive. And all that time our country has suffered. I haven’t got a job, my brother and sister haven’t got jobs, most of my friends haven’t got jobs. But this man wants to stay in his job until he dies.”