Fired by his party
Highlighting the contradictions in Zimbabwean politics, the ruling ZANU-PF party sacked Mugabe as its leader earlier on Sunday and told him to resign as head of state, naming ousted vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa as the new party chief.
Analysts say the military stepped in last week after Mugabe’s wife Grace, 52, secured prime position to succeed him as president following a bitter power struggle with Mnangagwa, who has close ties to the army.
The majority of Zimbabweans have only known life under Mugabe — the world’s oldest head of state — during a reign defined by violent suppression, economic collapse and international isolation.
Sources suggest Mugabe has been battling to delay his exit and to secure a deal guaranteeing future protection for him and his family.
“What you saw yesterday, it shows that the people have spoken,” Mordecai Makore, 71, a retired teacher told AFP about Saturday’s marches.
“All we want is peace, a good life with a working economy that creates jobs for our people. We will continue praying for that. I want my children and grandchildren to live a normal good life.”
The factional succession race that triggered Zimbabwe’s sudden crisis was between party hard-liner Mnangagwa — known as the Crocodile — and a group called “Generation 40,” or “G40,” because its members are generally younger, which campaigned for Grace’s cause.
The president, who is feted in parts of Africa as the continent’s last surviving independence leader, is in fragile health.
But he previously said he would stand in elections next year that would see him remain in power until he was nearly 100 years old.
He became prime minister on Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in 1980 and then president in 1987.
Zimbabwe’s economic output has halved since 2000 when many white-owned farms were seized, leaving the key agricultural sector in ruins.