Today we have won, Zimbabweans cheer during mass rally

2017-11-18 19:20

Harare – For the first time in nearly 40 years, Zimbabweans from all around the country gathered en masse without fear of violence from the police or reprisal.

What brought them together, after a tense week in which the military took over key governmental buildings in the capital, was the demand for long time ruler President Robert Mugabe to step down.

AS IT HAPPENED: 'This is a great day': Zimbabweans revel in Mugabe's ruin

Thousands of people gathered at the Highfields sports grounds just outside of the capital, while more gathered in Harare, demanding that Mugabe resign.

A new dawn

People were jubilant and celebrated "the dawn of a new Zimbabwe", waving flags as crowds started arriving in cars, buses and on the back of trucks.

Lawrence Mashiri, a resident from Harare, called the day Zimbabwe’s second independence. "We are happy today. This is our independence," he said.

"People say we got our independence in 1980, but that's not true. We are gaining our independence today," Mashiri said.

"It's time the old man must go. Him and all his cockroaches must go," he said.

Buying time

As rumours spread that Mugabe was requesting more time to negotiate an exit, Mashiri said the people of Zimbabwe didn’t want him to stay any longer.

"We’ve had him for 37 years. We’ve had enough now. It is time for a new leader," he said.

One man, who only identified himself as Comrade Rambawaravira, said they approved of the army’s involvement.

"It's a new Zimbabwe. We are expecting a lot of changes economically. We are very happy with the brave army," he said.

"They have managed to stop Mugabe and the criminals around him from destroying the country. We have been in this war for too long. Today we have won," he said. 

'It's a done deal'

"We have just come to celebrate. It's a done deal. We have no time for Mugabe any more, we came to celebrate and support our army to finish off the job and to welcome in the new Zimbabwe," Rambawaravira said.

Despite supporting the end of Mugabe’s time in charge, Alan Jwangwe said he disagreed with the army getting involved and taking over key governmental buildings.

"You can’t say this is a good thing. This is setting a precedent which is wrong. Imagine if I win an election, would they allow me to rule?'" he said.

Jwangwe said the problem was not just Mugabe, but it was the system that needed to be changed. "The system allows this rot."

An ultimatum

On Friday, Christopher Mutsvangwa, one of the war veterans, said Mugabe had until Saturday to resign, otherwise he would see "fireworks".

However, there was still no concrete word of his resignation. 

As a large crowd of people attempted to get close to State House where the negotiations between Mugabe and the military were taking place on Saturday afternoon, soldiers attempted to prevent the crowd from reaching the building.

After numerous attempts by the crowd to get closer, they were addressed by Major General Sibusiso Moyo who told them the negotiations were on track and they should go home. 

The crowds dispersed and went home, with the same cheer and celebratory spirit remaining.

One man said: "We have won. This is a new Zimbabwe. Tell everyone in the UK and Ireland and all around the world to come back so we can build a new Zimbabwe."

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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