Mugabe Headed To US, Opposition Says They’ll Be Waiting For Him
Zimbabwean journalists keep count of the number of times President Robert Mugabe has fallen asleep during meetings — 11 — and wonder how he’ll stay awake for the long sessions at the United Nations during the upcoming U.N. General Assembly Meeting, Zim Eye reported.
Mugabe left Harare Wednesday for the U.S. and Venezuela, seen off at Harare International Airport by Deputy President Emmerson Mnangagwa and cabinet ministers.
Exiled Zimbabwean Pastor and social media campaigner Evan Mawarire said he is organizing a protest against the Zanu PF leader, and called on Zimbabweans in the U.S. to join him to protest against corruption, police brutality and injustice “for the sake of a better Zimbabwe,” according to New Zimbabwe.
In a video posted to his Twitter account, Mawarire said “week-long massive protests” will coincide with Mugabe’s arrival in the U.S.
“As Robert Mugabe comes here to attend the United Nations, we will be waiting for him… Let’s refuse corruption, let’s refuse injustice, refuse poverty in our nation of Zimbabwe,” Mawarire said.
Mawarire will be joined by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai, News24 reported.
Zimbabweans protested in early July at the border town of Beitbridge against a government limit on imports from neighboring South Africa, imposed because of dollar shortages‚ according to the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation. Zimbabwean police came out in force and the protests turned violent.
Mawarire was arrested in July on charges of attempting a coup, but he was later freed after lawyers argued that a charge of subversion had been added at the last minute, according to New Zimbabwe. Mawarire, who leads the #ThisFlag social media movement, went into exile in South Africa and has been traveling in the U.S. He has ruled out a return home, saying he fears for his safety.
U.S. protesters will demonstrate against the torture of activists by Mugabe’s government, the opposition party said in a statement.
“We call upon the Zanu-PF government to stop the forcible abduction and brutal torture of opposition supporters. We demand that the Zanu-PF regime stop the distribution of food relief support on partisan lines. We are justifiably irritated at the Zanu-PF government’s reluctance in implementing electoral reforms,” the statement read.
Opposition groups will ask the U.N. to look into the disappearance of pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara, missing since March 2015 after calling for Mugabe to step down in a lone protest in Harare’s Africa Unity Square.
Mugabe is stirring opposition within his own party. Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa last week announced civil servants’ bonuses would be suspended, and the government workforce would be cut by 25,000 people. This week, Mugabe reversed the reform plan saying Chinamasa had not cleared it with him and the Cabinet, New Zimbabwe reported.
Mugabe, 92, has been in power since 1980. When journalists asked about his decades-long presidency, he said, “Have you ever asked the queen that question or is it just for African leaders?”
Mugabe has also said: “Only God, who appointed me, can remove me,” according to Mail&Guardian Africa.
Zimbabwe has no succession plan is in place, creating instability and fears from the international community that if Mugabe dies in office, there will be a violent transition.