Pretoria- Zimbabweans gathered in Pretoria on Saturday to demand the removal of President Robert Mugabe praised their country's military led by General Constantino Chiwenga for this week's intervention which has shaken the 93-year-old's 37-year rule.
"We could not have removed Mugabe without the army. Opposition parties tried, but they failed. The SADC [Southern Africa Development Community] tried, but they failed dismally. It is only one that Mugabe has met his match in General Chiwenga," said university student Martha Marimo.
Event organiser Lawrence Mavhaire said the SADC, and specifically South Africa, should stay away from internal Zimbabwean politics.
"Independence for Zimbabwe has arrived. Happy independence day, Zimbabwe. As Zimbabweans who are outside the country as a result of Mugabe's repressive regime, this is our chance to add our voice. To SADC we are saying, when we wanted you to tell Mugabe to run the economy properly, you didn't. When our people were butchered in 2008, you didn't intervene," said Mavhaire.
Speakers voiced their disagreement when newly-formed African Democrats leader Marcho Machona said the Zimbabwean military was the architect of the suffering of the masses.
"We need to tell each other the truth. It is the Zimbabwean army which has ensured that we are were we are today...," said Machona before his voice was drowned out by the disapproving crowd.
Zimbabwean national Mario Waragu Moyo was one of those who raised strong objections against Machona.
"We cannot allow people to come here and denounce the army. If the military had not intervened, was he [Machona] going to liberate the nation? This is not the platform for those who want to push their agenda by criticising the army," Moyo said.
Another speaker, Zimbabwe Communist Party general secretary Nicholas Mabhena, showered praise on the military.
"We are saying to General Chiwenga, we salute you. We salute you General Chiwenga and your colleagues. But as we salute you General Chiwenga, we as Zimbabweans, we want to tell you that socialism cannot be realised in an undemocratic society," Mabhena said.
"The first task of the interim government [after Mugabe] would be to organise a clear political roadmap to elections," he said.
Thulani Ndebele of the Zimbabwe Diaspora Vote Coalition said the event in Pretoria had been hugely successful considering it was organised at the "last minute".
"We have different organisations, around 20 of them, which are political parties and civic organisations who came here to join us," he said.
The crowd of Zimbabweans then left the Union Buildings area and headed to their embassy on the eastern side of Pretoria.
African News Agency