On Harare’s streets, many expressed amazement and delight Wednesday that President Robert Mugabe’s long reign may be coming to a close, but people also admitted the future looked unstable.
Mugabe, 93, has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980 — longer than many can remember — and the sudden move against him by the military left some hoping that his repressive regime would soon fall.
“We are happy with what has been done,” Keresenzia Moyo, 65, a housewife told AFP after visiting a hospital in the capital.
“We needed change. Our situation has been pathetic. The economy has been in the doldrums for a very long time.
“What is good is that this has happened at the top and it is not affecting us people on the ground. People could be killing each other.”
Moyo said that she didn’t care if Mugabe was allowed to leave the country unhindered despite his tenure being marked by brutal repression of dissent, corruption and election vote-rigging.
Mugabe, who is under house arrest after the military took control, led Zimbabwe to independence.
But his decades in power have turned a country known as the breadbasket of Africa for its produce, into an economic basket case, where many go hungry.
“What we want is for our children to be able to get jobs and live a normal happy life,” Moyo said.
“We want to have food on the table, not one side having everything and others dying of hunger. Mugabe was once a good person but he lost it. Now we need a fresh start.”
‘We need some kind of direction’
Zimbabwe’s military has denied staging a coup, saying Mugabe was still president.
“We don’t know what this all means and we don’t know what to do,” Karen Mvelani, 21, a student, told AFP.
“We need some kind of direction on where we are heading.”
The impact of the momentous political developments was limited in Harare, with many people attending street markets, catching mini-buses to work or lining up outside banks as normal.