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Over thirty years after independence, thousands of Zimbabweans have gathered at the Zimbabwe grounds to protest President Robert Mugabe’s reign. The site is symbolic, as it was these same grounds that citizens gathered at to celebrate liberation from white minority rule, and welcome Mugabe into power after his exile in Mozambique. The protest could mark the end of the 93-year-old President, who has since led the nation for almost four decades. The march is a response to the military recalling his power and ensuing house arrest given his removal of vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa from executive powers. The military faction of Zimbabwe has pledged its complete support of the protests, having previously established persistent opposition of Mugabe’s undemocratic policies.
CNN reports that the protest was originally organised by the nation’s influential association of army veterans. The frustrations of the Zimbabweans can partially be attributed to Mugabe’s prolonging talks with military authorities regarding his resignation. Many have speculated this is a political ploy to negotiate favours to terminate his leadership. “Not coup – but cool” and “Mugabe must go!” were two of the many proclamations visible at the protest, alongside “Chiwenga, lead the war to remove Mugabe,” which alludes to army General Chiwenga. Local Sam Sechete spoke for many present, stating “we are hoping for a new life after Mugabe.”
In the face of vast political corruption, it is the citizens’ responsibility to make their voices heard. The power of the people is truly visible in this protest, as thousands of Zimbabweans were gathered in the name of democratic peace. Their confidence and zest in the hopes of dismantling a decade-long reign serves as a source of inspiration to other nations in the midst of political turmoil. Many media sources have commented on the uncharacteristically peaceful nature of the protest, despite many protestors attempting to intrude the President’s official residence only to be stopped by the military.
The termination of vice president Mnangagwa’s career brought Mugabe’s intentions to light, with members of his own party expressing their concerns about having his wife Grace Mugabe as his successor. Shortly after being elected President, Robert Mugabe revised the Zimbabwean constitution to make himself the president. Since then, politics in Zimbabwe can be described as a shift away from democracy, with several allegations of human rights violations. According to Human Rights Watch, President Mugabe has stood by violating citizens’ rights to freedom of assembly, movement and the protection of the law. Elections are marked by violence and unrest, demonstrating a clear need for reform in the nation’s executive body.
In light of the allegations made by citizens and human rights organizations, it is imperative that President Mugabe step down from his supreme lead. While the protest demanding his resignation was nonviolent, the citizens of Zimbabwe deserve a leader who can veer the nation back towards its once democratic status. Zimbabwe’s military plays a critical role in resolving this conflict between the leader and his constituents, optimally without violent measures in place.