Johannesburg - Hundreds of Zimbabweans of all creeds and races took to the streets of Johannesburg on Saturday to celebrate what they hope is the imminent departure of President Robert Mugabe who is under pressure from the military and the ruling party to resign.
Zimbabweans gathered at their country’s consulate opposite Eastgate Mall in solidarity with their fellow countrymen and women who took to the streets of the Zimbabwe capital Harare demanding the departure of Mugabe who has been confined to his home since Tuesday.
Similar marches were underway in Pretoria, Cape Town, and Durban.
Mugabe remains under house arrest after Wednesday’s takeover by the military, although he is reportedly refusing to step down.
President Mugabe’s wife Grace, has not been seen in public since Wednesday. Her recent aggressive aspirations to succeed her husband and her and their sons’ lavish lifestyles appear to have been one of the major triggers for his downfall.
On Friday, all ten provinces of the governing ZANU-PF, which Mugabe has controlled with an iron grip since independence in 1980, voted for his removal from office.
In Johannesburg, which thousands of Zimbabweans call home, marchers held placards reading "Bob’s not my uncle", "No to Mugabe dynasty", "Make love, not war", "Zimbabwe army the voice of the people", and "SADC, AU stay out of Zimbabwe Affairs".
For many Zimbabweans, the atmosphere was electric and filled with hope. Marchers swarmed to the road on which the consulate is situated and drivers honked their horns.
South African-based businessman Brain Chigwendere, who joined the march, was ecstatic that “New Zimbabwe presents opportunities for business people to invest in the country”.
However, a nephew of Mugabe’s, Patrick Zhuwao, told Reuters on Saturday that the president and his wife were “ready to die for what is correct” and had no intention of stepping down in order to legitimise what they say is a military coup.
Speaking from Johannesburg, Zhuwao was quoted as saying that Mugabe had hardly slept since the military seized power, but that his health was otherwise “good.”
Diana Mapondera, 27, came to the march from Fourways, north of Johannesburg, and said: "Zimbabwe is back, now we can go home and rebuild what has been destroyed by Mugabe and his family."