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Pressure mounts on Mugabe to step down

Police detain opposition party supporters holding placards during a court appearance of those arrested following Friday's protest march, in Harare, Zimbabwe. Photo: Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo

Police detain opposition party supporters holding placards during a court appearance of those arrested following Friday's protest march, in Harare, Zimbabwe. Photo: Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo

Published Aug 30, 2016



Harare - Another huge protest has been planned for Wednesday with the stated intention of forcing Zimbabwe’s 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe to step down amid a worsening economic meltdown.

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Coordinators of the protests called #Tajamuka/Sesijikile insist they are going ahead with the planned protests despite the spectre of police heavy-handedness.

One of the leaders of #Tajamuka, Promise Mkwananzi, was arrested in connection with last week’s protests that culminated in the setting alight of vehicles and market stalls in the capital city, Harare. Mkwananzi appeared in court on Monday but was denied bail.

As many as 67 people, including an old woman and a journalist, were arrested during the protests.

However, #Tajamuka/Sesijikile co-ordinator, Hardlife Mudzingwa said the shut down protests were set to take place in Zimbabwe’s major cities including Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and Masvingo.

Mudzingwa, said citizens were tired of abject poverty which he blamed on the ruling ZANU PF leaders, whom he accused of corruption.

He cited abuse of power, police brutality and worsening unemployment in the country as reasons why citizens were increasingly unhappy.

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However, the group pointed out the protests would not be violent since they believed in peace and stability.

“We are not a violent campaign and we will not involve ourselves in violence,” Mudzingwa said.

#Tajamuka, #ThisFlag, #ThisFlower and a host of opposition parties have in recent weeks participated in protests over the economic melt down, banning of imports of basic food stuff from South Africa, delayed salaries for civil servants, demands for electoral reforms and jobs. The ban of imports from South Africa was lifted after the first wave of protests in July.

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The leader of #ThisFlag Pastor Evans Mawarire left Zimbabwe soon after he was released from jail. He was arrested for supposedly trying to topple Mugabe’s 36-year-old regime with his social media campaign.

Speaking at a media briefing on Tuesday, #ThisFlower campaign leader Stern Zvorwadza, who was recently released from police custody following his arrest a week ago, said protesters would continue “piling relentless pressure” on Mugabe until he quits.

“This day should be historic and be a day that we say enough is enough. As we participate in this process, we should not be deterred by the brutality of the State. We should stay clear in mind and clear in heart that the fight is on and this fight will end the game,” Zvorwadza said.

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Meanwhile, Zimbabwean war veterans have also warned Mugabe of the risk of eroding his legacy by refusing to step down. The nonagenarian health is failing but he continues to stubbornly cling to power.

The war veterans who in the past formed the bedrock of Mugabe’s support have in recent weeks turned against Zimbabwe’s long time leader. The former fighters said Mugabe’s refusal to step down would “expose” his wife Grace Mugabe and children.

Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) secretary-general Victor Matemadanda said Mugabe’s wife was allowing herself to be used by “vultures” within the ruling Zanu PF which is embroiled in serious factional succession fights.

“Mugabe is soiling his own legacy by overstaying. There is no need to force things. He is creating trouble for his children by antagonising everyone, we feel for his wife and children,” Matemadanda said.

African News Agency

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